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Nutley editorial: School overcrowding

Officials are moving forward to address school overcrowding. To a collective sigh of relief, the Nutley Board of Education decided not to move Yantacaw Elementary sixth-grade students to John H. Walker Middle School in the 2016-17 school year. As previously contemplated, it was not only a matter of acquiring space but also dealing with the logistics. The middle school would have had to incorporate the sixth-grade schedule into its operations, including the extended day program and lunch. Parents would have had to adjust to pick ups and drop offs further away from their neighborhood school. Students walking to school may have had to cross busy Franklin Avenue.

There was also the matter of cohesiveness. Would Yantacaw six-graders, located at Walker Middle School, lessen the sense of the Yantacaw neighborhood community. Long-term, overcrowding and space problems go beyond Yantacaw and its sixth-graders. The Nutley Board of Commissioners now plans to purchase property that will help extend Walker Middle School.

The commissioners introduced an ordinance on Tuesday, Oct. 20, that would authorize acquisition of 307-309 Franklin Ave., adjacent to the middle school. Robert E. Davis and Martha Davis Corp. desire to sell the half acre property to the township for $900,000, according to the township.

However, the proposed acquisition raises questions, chiefly: What tax impact will the purchase have, and will voters have a say in a middle school expansion project?