Philip’s Academy Charter School of Paterson and Building Hope broke ground Wednesday at the former site of a Paterson chemical factory for the construction of Philip’s Academy’s new school at 94-124 Madison Ave.
The new facility will increase the school’s enrollment by more than double, expanding from 435 students in grades kindergarten through five by adding 675 students and extending through eighth grade, officials said.
At present, Philip’s Academy uses two buildings in Paterson, one on State Street near 20th Avenue and another on Oliver Street near the downtown business district.
The charter school’s partner, Building Hope, announced in late January that it had closed on the $7.6 million purchase of the 1.85-acre Leader Dye property from the city of Paterson. Building Hope, a nonprofit group that finances charter school construction, was the high bidder in a city auction for the site last June. It took another six months to close on the deal.
Members of the community — including state Sen. Nellie Pou (D-Paterson), Paterson Mayor André Sayegh, Paterson Economic Development Executive Director Michael Powell, New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association CEO and President Harry Lee and Councilwoman and Pastor Dr. Lilisa Mimms — joined Philip’s interim CEO T.J. Best, school leadership, families and students for the ceremony.
“All any parent or guardian wants is the opportunity for their child to be given a chance to succeed,” Pou said. “That success, of course, starts with a quality education. I am excited to be witness today to a groundbreaking that marks a new chapter in the success story that is Philip’s Academy, and at the same time heralds a new chapter of quality educational opportunity for Paterson students and their families and recognizes a new investment in our city and its residents.”
Sayegh said: “This is a noteworthy new chapter for Philips Academy. Their new home will enrich the lives of students and add vitality to the neighborhood. Paterson is in growth mode and, together, we’re transforming this once-fallow site, helping to create a better quality of life for residents in the area.”
“The board of trustees of PACS Paterson is thrilled to build our school’s permanent home in this community,” said Dina Runcie, president of the board of Philip’s Academy. “Our state-of-the-art school campus will enable us to fulfill our mission and vision while creating jobs within Paterson and paying tribute to Paterson’s rich history in the silk industry. We look forward to building partnerships within the community that will enrich our students’ learning experiences while enhancing the community.”
The site plan includes a 63,000-square-foot academic building with an interior courtyard, basketball court and full commercial kitchen. Construction, which will utilize exclusively local contractors from northern New Jersey, is expected to be complete in time for the new Philip’s Academy school campus to open in fall 2023.
“Yes, we build dream schools, but what we do is about so much more than constructing a facility,” said Jerry Zayets, vice president, Building Hope Real Estate. “We design and build advanced, sustainable school campuses that enhance the experience of learning and well-being of students and teachers, creating connection and social impact in local communities.”