Morris School District unveils plans for major high school expansion

Artist's sketch of planned Morristown High School expansion.
Artist's sketch of planned Morristown High School expansion.
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Artist's sketch of planned Morristown High School expansion.
Artist’s sketch of planned Morristown High School expansion.

 

The Morris School District has announced plans for a major, four-phase expansion of Morristown High School to accommodate rising enrollments.

Phase one is a three-story, 24,000-square-foot addition to the Early Street building, a year-long project scheduled to start in June 2015. It will add six classrooms and a new technology center, to far west (right side) of the existing structure.

The second phase, in the summer of 2016, will connect the old and new buildings and add renovations to existing computer- and wood shop facilities.  The combined costs of these two phases is projected at $9.5 million, which the district has budgeted for, according to Board President Leonard Posey.

The third phase, in the summer of 2017, involves renovations to the existing visual/graphics arts wing. The final phase, tentatively set for summer 2018, will complete the ground level of the addition to accommodate student needs at that time.

No cost estimate was given for the last two phases, which can be moved to future years if necessary, according to the district.

Since 2011, high school enrollment has increased by 241 students, to 1,683. A 300-pupil jump is anticipated by 2018, the district said.

UPDATE:

A spokeswoman for the district attributed the increase to the turnaround in the real estate market.

“We are seeing young families moving into the Town and Township as well as Morris Plains,” Mary Donohoe said. 

She said there also has been an influx of students coming from private schools.  So far, she said, there has been minimal impact from new apartment development in Morristown.

Donohoe said the expansion plans have been approved by the state Department of Education. The district has contacted Morristown officials for a “courtesy” review, and is waiting to hear back, she said.

Here is the full statement from the district, which encompasses students from Morristown, Morris Township and (high school only) Morris Plains.

FROM THE MORRIS SCHOOL DISTRICT:

The Morris School District Board of Education has approved plans to expand and renovate Morristown High School to accommodate increasing enrollment and provide contemporary space to support robotics, engineering, computer-aided design, technology, and fine and graphic arts instruction.

Enrollment at the high school has increased from 1,442 in 2011 to 1,683 as of September, 2014. Projections indicate an additional 300 students by the start of the 2018 school year.

“In addition to adding much-needed space, the project will provide contemporary instructional areas to support 21st century learning,” said Board of Education President Leonard Posey.

“The last renovation to Morristown High School was completed in 1983. Instruction and programs have changed dramatically since then. We need space to support new technologies and collaborative group work, and to provide today’s real-world learning experiences. This project meets all those needs.”

The project is scheduled in four phases, each timed to coincide with program needs as enrollment increases.

The first phase, a 24,000 square foot, three-story addition to the Early Street building, is slated to begin in June 2015. When completed in the summer of 2016, the first and second floors of the structure will provide 6 new classrooms and an expansive state-of-the-art technology center.

The second phase will take place during the summer of 2016. At that time, hallways and doors connecting the old and new buildings will be opened, the existing CAD classroom will be renovated and divided into two instructional spaces, and the existing wood shop will be renovated and divided into two classrooms.

The estimated $9.5 million cost of phases one and two will be paid for through capital reserve.

“We anticipated the need for this addition and renovation and budgeted accordingly,” said Posey. “In so doing, we are able to provide this addition without increasing debt and cost to taxpayers.”

The third phase of the project, renovations to the existing visual and graphic arts wing, is scheduled for the summer of 2017.

The fourth and final phase is planned for the summer of 2018. At that time, the interior of the ground level space of the new wing will be finished to accommodate enrollment and program needs at that time.

Phases three and four are designed as stand-alone projects which will be paid for through annual operating budgets and capital reserve funds. If necessary, these phases can be moved to future years without impacting programs in place.

The new addition will be constructed on the west side (far right) of the Early Street building.

“Although the outside of the new wing honors and reflects the classic architecture of the original 1918 building, the inside will be purely high-tech,” said Posey.

“The new structure will include numerous green initiatives including low-flow water fixtures, LED lighting, and roof-mounted photovoltaic panels to save energy and reduce the environmental impact of the building.”

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Now I know he represents me, I am even angrier he didn’t inform the Township he was spending 9 million on a building no one knows anything about.

  2. The project cost is 9.5 million for phase one and two. There is no cost given for phase three and four. Is it another 9 million or is it another secret?

  3. Posey lives in the Town and didn’t bother to give the Township committee notice. Our kids go to Morristown High School too. Why didn’t Possey contact the township too.

  4. Why hasn’t Posey said something about this massive project sooner. It starts in June! Its a done deal! No input from neighborhood. How long has the secret planning been going on? Who the hell is Posey anyway?

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