Council Introduces $17.5 Million Bond Ordinance for School Improvements

Upgrades planned for Jefferson, Franklin and Lawton C. Johnson Middle School.

During the first-ever snow-rescheduled Summit Common Council meeting Friday, a $17.5 million bond ordinance was introduced to fund school improvements. 

The ordinance would allow for the following:

  • Improvement of the Lawton C. Johnston Summit Middle School including the renovation and reconstruction of classrooms, science laboratories and auditorium facilities and the brick repointing of the exterior thereof;
  • Improvement of the Franklin School including the construction of an addition thereto to provide additional classroom facilities, the installation of an elevator, the installation of a security vestibule and the installation of a fire alarm system; 
  • Improvement of the Jefferson Elementary School including the construction of an addition thereto; and the improvement of the Summit High School including the installation of new boilers.
Councilman Patrick Hurley expressed his concerns that the Board of Education focus on security as this is an opportunity to "make everything of state of the art."

Mayor Ellen Dickson, a member of the Board of School Estimate, said Schools Superintendent Dr. Nathan Parker is the "driving force" behind the security plans, and assured Hurley that upcoming changes, particularly the vestibule planned for Franklin, would improve security. (Parker offered a presentation on safety and security in October.) A hearing on the ordinance will be held Tuesday, Feb. 18. 

In her Mayor's report, Dickson encouraged the city's young women to attend 'Full Steam Ahead' in which she and Summit Board of Education President Gloria Ron-Fornes will co-host a half-day event dedicated to exploring STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) careers for women.     

Councilman Al Dill said the recent extreme cold is taking a toll on the Summit Community Center, located at 100 Morris Ave. Earlier in the week, emergency heaters needed to be installed and Dill pointed out that while the center is intended to serve as an evacuation center, without sufficient heat, it couldn't fulfill that purpose.

In mid-November, Judith Leblein Josephs, director of the Department of Community Programs, together with architect David Rosen of The Rosen Group, presented a variety of options for the proposed renovation of the Summit Community Center. Dill urged the Council to "get something on the agenda" so a decision can be made on how to proceed with renovations as conditions continue to worsen.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, real estate developer Robert Steelman said he attended a Summit Downtown Inc. meeting in December regarding parking and stated that proposed additional parking does not solve the problem with the perception that "parking isn't good in town." Steelman added that he cannot think of a more important subject for downtown. Previously, Steelman has commented that "the combination of a poorly planned parking system and aggressive ticket enforcement is not user friendly. A parking system that is not user friendly puts downtown business at a competitive disadvantage."

Hurley said the possibility of adding between 300 and 500 cars to Summit's streets would require thinking about additional public safety demands. The councilman said it could be necessary to look at the idea of hiring police officers as the area in and around the train station is an ongoing safety concern. 
Patrick Hurley January 25, 2014 at 10:50 AM
My point at yesterday's council meeting was school security is about so much more than vestibules - also known as mantraps. Sandy Hook elementary had a vestibule and the shooter simply shot through non-resistant glass a few feet away to gain access. Approximately, six minutes later he was dead from a self inflicted gun-shot wound after killing twenty children and six adults. School security in the face of an immediate threat is about delay and response - Delaying an attack until police responders can arrive. Vestibules are an important first step in this process but are just that - a first step. And, as Sandy Hook proved, a more comprehensive physical, technical and procedural approach is needed that includes perimeter security, entry point management, video surveillance, visitor management (not zero tolerance policies barring parents from the school without 24 hour prior notice), shelter in place, and supplier integrity. I too am a member of the Board of School Estimate. I am also Chairman of Public Safety here in Summit, hold one of the top private sector security certifications in the world (ASIS International CPP), and have significant experience working with some of the world’s top security experts (from the military, public and private sectors) securing high risk corporate, industrial and public sites from an array of threats all around the world. Most importantly, I am a public school parent. While I know our police are capable of providing a very effective response to any situation in our public and private schools in a matter of minutes, I have yet to see any details, other than the very basics presented to the public last year, of the enhanced, state of the art, school security that was promised to the public as part of the approval of $17 million in taxpayer funded capital requests. Pat Hurley - Member of Common Council


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »