New school for Jones College Prep

By Amanda Murphy

The empty lot at 700 S. State St. has a bigger future than one might think. Presently a noisy battlefield of construction, the site—which is next to Jones College Prep, 606 S. State St.—will house a fresh beginning for the high school and its students.

The new school building which is targeted for complition in July 2013, will offer its students and faculty more space and resources and provide a better educational environment, according to the high school’s principal, Joseph Powers.

“We’re moving out of this current building because it has not been adequate to our needs for some time,” Powers said.

Larger classrooms are a key feature for the new high school. Powers said the new rooms will allow teachers to better deliver a quality education to their students and contribute to their success. The new school will also allow for an enrollment of 1,200, which is 400 more students than the previous building accomodated.

According to Jones College Prep junior Lissette Collazo, the extra space will earn a sigh of relief from students. The classrooms, according to her, aren’t the major crowding problem, but congestion in the hallways makes it difficult to travel between classes.

“Our population in the school is growing as the years go on, so I am excited to get a larger area,” Collazo said. “It’s getting a little cramped.”

The new building will also benefit the school’s athletic program. The current Jones College Prep building, which was built in 1967, does not have a gymnasium, and students have to be transported to a facility approximately five miles away, Powers said. A natatorium will also be constructed to benefit the school’s swim team and allow for more aquatic activities.

Although the old building has a theater, Powers said the new one will be a better-equipped facility featuring state-of-the-art lighting and sound and seating for 500 people. A library combined with a media center will also be provided at the new school, something the old one was lacking.

“The school needs to have a facility that can provide a comprehensive program for the students,” Powers said.

When the building became Jones College Prep in 1998, an extension had been planned that would include a gymnasium and library, he said. However, many factors halted the plan.

The decision to use the money to build a new school was made in 2008, Powers said.

“The financial aspect of the project will primarily be covered by tax increment financing funds,” Powers said. “[They] were made available largely through the efforts of Alderman Bob Fioretti (2nd Ward).”

The future plans for the old high school are still tentative, Powers said.