LONG BRANCH: The district’s oldest school, the West End School, has been sold to Menachem Learning Institute, also known as Chabad of the Shore.
Menachem’s address is listed as 620 Ocean Ave., the same as Chabad of the Shore, a non-profit Jewish organization that holds religious services and other community events.
The Long Branch Board of Education (BOE) approved the sale of the property to Menachem in January, Long Branch School District Superintendent Michael Salvatore said.
“They are currently seeking approvals from the city and their lender,” Salvatore said.
Menachem is purchasing the West End School for $3.3 million and has been given consent by the BOE to use it for “after-school religious education as well as pre-school religious education,” according to the resolution passed by the board.
The board has also given Menachem the authority to “evolve into a full-time religious school, kindergarten through eighth grade.”
Chabad applied to the Long Branch Zoning Board of Adjustment in 2012 to build a two-story building containing a 200-seat sanctuary, a 200-person capacity multipurpose room with a kitchen on the second floor, and five classrooms, office space and a room for religious services in the are of the old movie theater, West End Deli and Bagel and Lou’s Uniform’s in West End.
The board denied Chabad’s plan in June, 2013, but the organization appealed the board decision. It is not clear if Chabad of the Shore is still pursuing the appeal after their bid was accepted by the BOE. Salvatore said the plan had always been to close the West End School following the 2013-14 school year and sell it.
“This is absolutely going to be the last year for the West End School,” Salvatore said. “Those students will be going to the new Catrambone School.”
The resolution states that if the construction of the George L. Catrambone School is not completed by June 30 and open in time for the 2014-15 school year, the board has the option of continuing to use the West End School until Nov. 18 at a cost of $5,000 per month. The closing date for Menachem is set for July 18.
Salvatore said the district will be realigning its elementary school schools next school year due to the increased number of pre-k and kindergarten students in the district.
Kindergarten classrooms will be pulled from the district's current elementary schools and placed into the Joseph M. Ferraina Early Childhood Learning Center and Lenna W. Conrow School, which are currently preschools. The Morris Avenue School will also become an exclusive early education center after serving as a home for pre-kindergarten to third grade students.
The Gregory School and Amerigo A. Anastasia Schools will no longer have kindergarten classrooms and will now house students in grades 1-5.
The completion of the Catrambone School will give the district its third elementary school.
After this school year, students from the Joseph M. Ferraina Early Childhood Learning Center will feed into the Anastasia School, Lenna W. Conrow students will feed into the Gregory School and Morris Avenue School students will feed into the Catrambone School.
The Audrey W. Clark School will become the new home to the district's alternative education program. The district is currently renting space at the Holy Trinity School for the program which is designed for students with "unique learning styles," according to Salvatore.