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N.J. school district finalizes $3.4M sale of school building to Rowan University

Brianna Kudisch | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

School district officials in Glassboro on Monday finalized the sale of its middle school building to Rowan University for $3.4 million, as the university continues to expand its physical footprint. The 92-year-old Intermediate School serves roughly 270 seventh and eighth graders. Built in 1930 for $400,000, the school was originally used as the borough’s high school.

The current high school on Joseph L. Bowe Boulevard opened in 1965. Superintendent Mark Silverstein attributed the move to a steady decline in student enrollment, similar to surrounding districts, and financial savings. “A goal in our school district’s 2021 strategic plan was to consolidate students to optimize space, facilitate educational programs, and enhance cost efficiency,” he said in a statement provided to NJ Advance Media.

The district approached the university last spring about the sale. It will save the district about $175,000 a year in operating and maintenance costs, along with the $3.4 million from the sale itself, he said. “This money will provide a tax neutral solution to fund Thomas E. Bowe’s conversion to a middle school,” Silverstein said. “It was the right thing to do for our students and district.”

The state Department of Education approved the sale in Dec. 2021. It became final March 7. The 79,891-square-foot building is located on a 9.52-acre lot, which also includes a one-story brick annex with classrooms and a wood-frame building used for storage. Seventh and eighth grade students in the building will still finish out the school year. In September, the district will realign the lower grades. First through fifth graders will go to Dorothy L. Bullock School, and sixth through eighth graders will go to Thomas E. Bowe School. Grade levels at J. Harvey Rodgers School and Glassboro High School will not change. Adding students to the existing school buildings won’t max out student capacity — Thomas E. Bowe School will have 430 students next school year (with a maximum of 529) and Dorothy L. Bullock School will have 669 students (with a maximum of 748).

The district will use the funds from the sale to create three science labs in Bowe school and renovate the locker rooms, along with other smaller projects. Rowan is still developing its plans for the newly acquired building but it intends to use it to expand the university’s community music school, a release said. Administrative offices will also move into the space. The university has purchased buildings from the borough before. It bought the decaying Academy Street School — which was renamed Shpeen Hall, after former Glassboro Mayor Alvin Shpeen — in 2001. The university renovated it for $4.5 million and uses it for administrative offices and alumni events.

Rowan University President Ali A. Houshmand said university officials had been looking at adding office space on campus before the pandemic, but delayed those plans. “It’s a win for all involved,” he said in a statement. “We are happy to help preserve Glassboro history while helping the school district better serve its students.”

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