Officials get a glimpse inside the new Trenton Central High School that opens fall of 2019 >>
TRENTON » The new Trenton Central High School being constructed on Chambers Street is going to be so nice it may help reduce the capital city’s longstanding chronic absenteeism problem, said Trenton Board of Education President Gene Bouie.
“This is incredible, so worthy of the children,” Bouie said Friday as he toured the new TCHS construction site alongside education leaders and City Hall officials. “They are going to want to come to school. This is generational transformation.”
The Trenton school board in October 2014 voted to demolish Trenton Central High School. The original facility, which opened in 1932, was torn down in a slow, piecemeal fashion in 2015 and 2016 as officials like former State Assemblyman Reed Gusciora pushed former Gov. Chris Christie’s administration to make a meaningful investment in Trenton’s crumbling schools infrastructure.
“It was disgusting,” Gusciora, now serving as Trenton’s newly elected mayor, said Friday of the original TCHS. He was specifically talking about the old basement cafeteria, which was often called “the mold room” because it had fungiinfested walls. “It was really depressing to be there,” the mayor said.
The original TCHS was notorious for mold, leaking roofs and crumbling walls, a textbook example of what happens when public officials fail to properly maintain public properties over the long haul. The new high school, slated to open in September 2019, is “going to be a state-of-the-art learning center,” Gusciora said Friday as he toured the construction site.
The new TCHS will be a 374,000-square-foot facility designed to educate 1,900 students in grades 10 through 12, according to the New Jersey Schools Development Authority, which hosted Friday’s guided tour of the construction site.
The new school will boast a variety of amenities, including a swimming pool, dance studio, weight room, media center and full-stage auditorium with a balcony level, in addition to a plethora of educational labs dedicated to science, culinary arts and other areas complementing a holistic curriculum.
“It’s great to have a new, shiny building,” Trenton Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Fred McDowell said Friday, “but if nothing changes, it’s just a shiny building.”
McDowell said he is focused on providing students with an education that builds workforce skills and prepares them for college. “This requires us to teach differently,” he said. “When you give children choices, they are more successful.”
Lizette Delgado-Polanco, who recently became the new CEO of the Schools Development Authority after Gov. Phil Murphy ousted former SDA CEO Charles McKenna, also toured the new TCHS construction site on Friday.
“We are very proud to be part of this historic moment, which is this school,” Delgado-Polanco told the group at the end of the tour. “This is a team effort, and it is all worth it for the students.”
The school’s swimming pool will be 25 meters — smaller than Olympic-sized — and will feature six lanes and a maximum depth of 15 feet to easily accommodate diving on the deep end, according to Thomas Schrum, SDA’s managing director of program operations. “I’m sure many children will learn how to swim here,” he said, “which is a wonderful thing.”
Funded by the SDA, the new TCHS is being built on the same parcel of land where the original high school once stood. The total estimated cost of the project is estimated to exceed $155 million.
Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora (center) tours the new Trenton Central High School construction site alongside the New Jersey Schools Development Authority Managing Director Thomas Schrum (right) on Friday.
The New Jersey Schools Development Authority guides community members on a tour of the new Trenton Central High School building.