Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and local developer DEVCO have planned with the New Brunswick Board of Education to purchase and close the Lincoln Annex School, (grades 4-8), at 165 Somerset Street, right across the street from the RWJ Hospital. The school, which serves 750 children, opened just three years ago (September 2016), after the Board purchased and renovated a former Catholic school at a cost of $22 million. Lincoln Annex is “Future Ready” and one of the city’s better performing schools in terms of student growth and development. Its student body is 94% Latino, and 86% “economically disadvantaged.” Yet RWJ and the Cancer Institute want to tear the school down to build a new $750-million cancer pavilion.
School officials have been extremely evasive and dishonest with parents when asked about the potential school closing. But engineers and surveyors have been through the school and the plan is to begin work by early summer! This means the school would be closed in 5 months. The Board of Education plans to relocate students to a school in an industrial warehouse two miles away. This will cause working families undue hardship. The school will only provide busing for students who live more than 2 miles away from the warehouse. Many parents will have to arrange their own transportation each day. Most families do not have cars, and many do not drive. Their children have walked to school for the past several years. Even those who will qualify for busing, will face challenges whenever a child misses the bus or gets sick at school and has to be picked up. The new school could take a decade to build, as happened with the Redshaw School in New Brunswick not long ago.
The construction of a new cancer center is a worthy cause, but it shouldn’t be built on the backs of children. This project places a heavy burden on our community’s most vulnerable residents. New Brunswick’s population is 53% Latino; 40% of all households earned less than $30,000 in 2017. The city’s “revitalization” and development have already pushed longtime residents farther away from the city center. This will be yet another example of urban renewal displacing working-class communities, people of color, and the economically marginalized.
RWJ and Rutgers can build elsewhere. If they want the Lincoln Annex site, they must build a new school in the same neighborhood to replace it FIRST.
Stop this injustice! Help defend local school children! The Coalition to Defend Lincoln Annex School