PATERSON, NJ and WASHINGTON, D.C. (FEB. 16, 2022) – Philip’s Academy Charter School of Paterson (PACS) and Building Hope broke ground today for the construction of Philip’s Academy’s new school at 94-124 Madison Ave. Members of the community – including New Jersey State Senator Nellie Pou, Paterson Mayor André Sayegh, Paterson Economic Development Executive Director Michael Powell, New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association President and CEO 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,” said Sen. Pou. “That success, of course, starts with a quality education. I am excited to be witness today to a ground-breaking 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.”
Mayor 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.”
Mr. Lee also shared his excitement about the project. “I am proud to see construction of this new facility begin,” he said. “Charter schools are an important element of the public school system, and I am so excited to see Philip’s Academy students begin to use this new facility in 2023.”
The ceremony began with a flag salute and singing by Philip’s students, and it concluded with a blessing of the land by Dr. Mimms.
“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 Charter School of Paterson. “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.”
Philip’s Academy Charter School’s Founding Principal Regina Lauricella said, “For the past six years we have dreamed about a permanent location in Paterson that met Philip’s mission and vision of providing our students with an intentionally designed school building that meets all of the key design elements of our charter. Today, we quite literally step into that space and look forward to the development of our forever home where our students will have access to innovative learning spaces, both indoors and out. Our new school will allow us to continue to grow our student body and further develop programming that supports our students, families, and the greater community. We have lots of ideas and cannot wait to have the space for them to become a reality.”
Don Taylor, who is chair of the facilities committee for the Philip’s Academy Charter School of Paterson’s Board of Directors, also spoke at the event. “Today we celebrate a major investment in the city of Paterson,” he said. “There will soon be an exceptional new school building on this long-abandoned property. The Board of Trustees of Philip’s Academy Charter School of Paterson and our supporters are making an investment in this community and the families that are served by PACS Paterson. And most of all, we are making an unwavering commitment to our students and their families.”
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.”
Building Hope is the leading investor in and developer of place-based charter school facilities customized to the program goals and the school culture, tailored to the market, and sensitive to urban planning and design. The non-profit purchased the land parcel on behalf of Philip’s Academy in a transaction that closed last month.
Philip’s Academy opened in 2016 with just 60 kindergartners and currently serves 435 kindergarten through fifth grade students in two different buildings in Paterson. This new site will enable Philip’s Academy to grow by 75 additional students each year and operate a single, kindergarten through eighth grade campus in Paterson for 675 students on a permanent basis.
About Building Hope
Building Hope is a non-profit foundation created to support education and public charter schools. Since 2003, Building Hope has created impact by investing in facilities, financial, and operational services for charter schools nationwide. With Building Hope’s support, schools can devote more resources to educating students in underserved communities. Building Hope has supported over 300 charter school projects and more than 150,000 students in 20 states and the District of Columbia, by providing more than $375 million in direct loans, credit enhancements, and equity investments to support more than $2 billion in school construction. For more information about how Building Hope helps charter schools nationwide with facilities, financing, and operational services, visit www.buildinghope.org.