$42.5M lease will save big bucks, Newark school district says

By Karen Yi | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
on February 15, 2017

NEWARK -- The Newark School District is moving out of Cedar Street. 

The School Advisory Board on Monday approved a $42.5 million, 16-year lease to relocate administrative headquarters to 765 Broad Street this summer. District officials said the move would save about $2.4 million a year after the district's current lease at 2 Cedar Street ends July 31.

The board voted 7-2 to approve the lease agreement with NJ Urban Realty Partners, LLC, a week after it failed to pass the measure.

"I understand there's a gap in our budget," said board member Dashay Carter, who voted in favor of the lease after initially voting no because she wanted more time to review the numbers. "I felt it was in the best interests of students in Newark ... we couldn't afford not to save this money."

Carter said she still believed the district should own its building in the future. The district has rented the Cedar Street offices since 1990.

"Right now we have to do what's best, we have to crawl before we walk," Carter said.

The lease gives the district the option to buy after 12 years and first dibs if the building's owners choose to sell, said board member Marques-Aquil Lewis, who also voted for the lease.

"This is a long time coming for us," Lewis said. "What I love about this the most is we're cutting, we're slimming -- that's more money going into the classroom, more money saving people's jobs."

Slightly smaller than current headquarters, the leased space is four floors and 100,000 square feet. The space is fully furnished and includes built-in work stations, district officials said. The district also plans to include a family engagement center and science lab and technology center. 

"We're going to be family-friendly," Lewis said.

It's not clear what the district's budget gap will look like; school district funding numbers are expected later this month.

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