Woodbridge, NJ cancels new school due to inflation and supply chain

WOODBRIDGE – Inflation is not only driving up the cost of food and gas, but also the cost of new schools.

After two years of planning, the Woodbridge Board of Education has canceled plans to build a new Avenel Elementary School

Funds for the new school were part of a 2020 referendum approved by voters just before COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were put in place that slowed construction, Superintendent Joseph Massimino said at Thursday’s meeting.

The school’s builder, AECOM, told Massimino that delays and supply shortages drove up the cost of the new building by at least $15 million, for a total of $50 million.

“They told us that the increase in costs and funding for the project has changed dramatically during the inflationary cycle that has gripped our country and is exacerbated by supply chain issues in obtaining financing. ‘steel, some wood, some of the interior fittings for the construction,’ Massimino said.

The superintendent said he and the council would not be comfortable with another referendum asking for additional funds. Instead, funds already approved will be used to renovate the existing school without interrupting education.

Not the first school renovation

The district has already done a similar renovation at Lafayette Estates and Matthew Jago schools by adding a gymnasium and cafeteria to each, according to Massimino.

“While not the original plan, these circumstances are not circumstances that we chose, they are certainly circumstances that we are trying to manage,” Massimino said.

The new school would have accommodated 400 students from kindergarten to grade 5. Plans included an auditorium, gym, courtyard and playground.

Massimino said the school will eventually be replaced.

“We are still determined to provide the municipality of Avenel with a newer primary school.

The decision has the support of Mayor John McCormac, who called it a “prudent move” by council.

“We’ve had referendums where there’s a wide variety of things for all the schools in the city. It would have been tough to ask for $15 million for just one school,” McCormac told New Jersey 101.5.

McCormac said the revised project would cost about $30 million and return $5 million to taxpayers.

“I would have loved to see a new school, but it’s just not practical,” the mayor said.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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