Haddonfield resident says major issues abound with Haddonfield School District’s plans for new Early Childhood Education Center
The Haddonfield School District (HSD) is determined to acquire the abandoned Kingsway Learning Center at 144 Kings Highway West and convert it into an Early Childhood Education Center. This is a misguided and costly mistake. The 50,000 plus square foot building was constructed in 1966 and is situated such that there is no street parking.
The HSD’s intention is to rehab the seriously deteriorated building, abandoned as a school in 2018, and outfit it for 400 plus kindergarten and pre-K children, recruiting non-resident tuition paying students.
Major issues abound. Traffic studies will show the impossibility of parents dropping off their children, many in car seats, at the school. Our youngest will be bused to Kingsway from their local school and returned later that day. The costs will be prohibitive. The scheme is awkward and desperate.
The school was originally built as a private girls school immediately adjacent to a large convent where the teaching nuns resided. The girls school closed in 1972 and Kingsway purchased the school for special needs students. Kingsway closed in 2018. The school and the convent became two separate properties. The convent, which is perpendicular to Kings Highway, was purchased and converted into spacious private residences. The only way to utilize the parking area behind the school is to cut through the entire length of this now private apartment property using a single lane driveway. The District hopes to allow 30 to 40 cars drive in and out each day. It is a property and privacy invasion.
A better solution: Build new. In October 2021, Susan Kutner, Director of Facilities Planning for the New Jersey Department of Education, presented a comprehensive Long-Range Facilities Plan to our Board of Education (BOE) favoring a new, designed for early education, 20,000 square foot building for Haddonfield children on the BOE owned 5-acre Bancroft land parcel. Ms. Kutner suggested cost for rehabbing a 50,000 plus square foot building will approximate the cost of new construction for a 20,000 square foot new building.
And many inherent Kingsway problems are solved.