Now officially open: Essex County’s Donald M. Payne School of Technology is completed and ready for students

June 7th, 2018

The official ribbon-cutting in the lobby of the new school

News release:  Essex County Executive DiVincenzo and the Essex County Schools of Technology dedicate the new Essex County Donald M. Payne School of Technology

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and the Essex County Schools of Technology District announced that the construction of the Essex County Donald M. Payne, Sr. School of Technology was completed and dedicated the new 320,000-square-foot facility on Monday, June 4th.

The building will provide a modern learning environment that will enable the school district to offer curriculum and fields of study in emerging professions.

Read the NJ.com story Check out new $165M tech school. The 10th grader inside you will wish you went here and see more pictures.

“The fact that our school district has received four National Blue Ribbon Awards in the last six years demonstrates the high level of achievement by our students and the ongoing commitment to excellence by our teachers and staff. Their achievements are even more impressive because the classrooms where are students were preparing for the future were developed in the past, and it has been difficult adapting our changing curriculum to our antiquated buildings,” DiVincenzo said.

The exterior of the new school. Approximately 1.100 students who now attend Bloomfield Tech and the North 13th Street campus will be enrolled in September

“After talking about the need for a modern building for over 40 years, we are proud to stand here in this state-of-the-art facility that will provide our students the opportunity to receive a first-class education and foundation that will benefit them the rest of their lives,” he added.

“It was a no-brainer to name the school after the late Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr.  He was a tireless advocate for Essex County and New Jersey, and providing a solid future for our children was always important to him. There is no better way to keep his legacy alive than naming this campus for him,” DiVincenzo said.

“Building this school was a massive undertaking and it took the cooperation from all levels of government to make it a reality.  The support and cooperation we received from former Governor Chris Christie and the State Legislature, the Board of Freeholders, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and the Newark Council and the Essex County Schools of Technology was extraordinary.  This truly demonstrates what can be accomplished when multiple levels of government work together,” he pointed out.

“This is such an exciting time to be part of the Essex County Schools of Technology.  The opening of the new Donald Payne School will give us the kind of space we need to offer classes that will prepare our students for the competitive and changing job market,” Essex County Schools of Technology Superintendent Dr. Jim Pedersen said. “Our district has such a great reputation of providing our students with a strong academic foundation and this phenomenal facility will help us continue this legacy for generations to come,” he pointed out.

The new school campus is located at the intersection of West Market Street and Ninth Avenue in the West Ward of Newark.

The culinary arts center at Payne Tech (Ed Murray/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

The three-story building has traditional classrooms for core curriculum subjects such as history, English, mathematics and science as well as specially designed spaces for career training classes including culinary arts, carpentry, plumbing and electrical systems, and cosmetology, and emerging professions such as green energy and agricultural science, engineering, information technology, television and radio, cyber security, graphic design and public safety.

For example:

  • The building trades share a two-story, common learning area.  The unique setting will enable the students to simulate a major construction project, learn how the trades interact and provide ample space for larger projects.
  • The culinary arts area includes traditional kitchen space, but also a restaurant area and storefront where the public can sample students’ creations.
  • Students studying green energy have access to a “green” roof, solar panels and greenhouse.

“I am excited to be part of the first class that will graduate from the Donald Payne School. It will be an incredible experience,” said Erika Padilla, a junior at Essex County Bloomfield Tech.

“I am excited to be attending Payne School in the fall. It’s an honor to be attending a school named for a legend and it’s an opportunity for us to carry on his legacy,” said Rajohn Wright, Jr., a junior in Essex County North 13th Street School.

The opening of the school was welcomed by local officials.

“I salute Joe for making this incredible school that will fulfill the hopes and dreams of a new generation. The school is a fitting tribute to the life and legacy of Donald Payne, who was a lion in his advocacy for his district and country,” Senator Robert Menendez said.

“This is a great day for the Payne family and a great day for new opportunities for our students,” Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver said. “Twenty years ago, Joe DiVincenzo envisioned a new school for this district.”

“Through bi-partisan efforts, we are changing the lives of children,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney said.

“This is an unparalleled facility, a link to the future and tribute to Donald Payne and his contributions to this city and our country. This is what we can accomplish when we come together,” Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said.

The William D. Payne Innovation Centre at Payne Tech (Ed Murray/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

“Just think of how much our students will be able to learn in the cutting edge classrooms here,” NJ State Senator and Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz said.

“Today is an awesome day because we are dedicating a new school and remembering a man whose legacy it was to help others,” Freeholder President Brendan Gill said.

“I thank Joe for his vision and making this happen. It’s exactly what our children need and it’s exactly what they deserve,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said.

“To open this school is a miracle for this community.  It’s helping to restore vitality and life to the West Ward,” Newark Councilman Joseph McCallum said.

During the ceremony, the school was dedicated in memory of the late Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr. and four classrooms were dedicated in honor of people who contributed to the school being built:

  • The Essex County Donald M. Payne, Sr. School of Technology: “My father was a teacher first, and education meant everything to him. There is no more fitting honor to keep his legacy alive,” Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. said. “It’s nice to name the building after someone, but what is important is what will be happening in these classrooms and the education the students receive,” he added.
  • The Chris Christie Law and Public Safety Center: “Joe had a vision for this school and to provide a 21st century facility, as the students should have. This school is something that will change the lives of the students who attend here,” the former governor said.
  • The Father Edwin Leahy Auditorium: “The students in our trade programs will be taught to build bridges not walls. Bridges between a Republican Governor and Democratic County Executive are what made this school a reality,” said the headmaster of St. Benedict’s Prep and the Board President of the Schools of Technology District.
  • The William D. Payne Innovation Centre: “Receiving a first-class education is the first key to success. Our students should know they can follow the same path as Donald Payne to find their future,” said the former State Assemblyman who authored Amistad legislation to have history of African Americans part of the school curriculum.
  • The Rev. Mamie Lee Community Café: “I want to thank everyone who worked with me and determined we could do better than to have an abandoned hospital in our neighborhood. We did go higher and higher with this school,” said the 93-year-old community activist who stood with the County Executive to redevelop the former United Hospital Center site.

The school includes an 800-seat auditorium and two gymnasiums – one gym to accommodate sporting events and an auxiliary gym for physical education classes.  On the western side of the campus is a synthetic grass field constructed on the roof of an underground parking garage. The field provides recreation space for physical education classes, and the garage is for teacher and staff parking.

The Payne School will have a student body of about 1,100 students.  These students will come from the Essex County Bloomfield Tech Campus in Bloomfield and the Essex County North 13th Street Campus in Newark.

Bloomfield Tech was constructed in 1930 and North 13th Street was constructed in 1928.  Although they are well-maintained, it has been difficult and costly to retrofit classrooms to accommodate new curriculum.  The District plans to sell those two buildings and use the sale revenue to offset the construction cost of the new facility.

DiCara-Rubino Architects from Wayne received a $4,239,995 contract to design the Payne School. Dobco, Inc. from Wayne was awarded a publicly bid contract for $96,159,000 to construct the school.  Joseph Jingoli & Son, Inc. from Lawrenceville was awarded a $1,640,644 contract to provide construction management services to answer questions and ensure delays are avoided.

The construction is being funded through the Essex County Vocational Technical Schools’ Capital Budget with 90 percent of the costs being reimbursed by the State of New Jersey.  The other 10 percent is anticipated to be funded with the proceeds from the sale of Bloomfield Tech and North 13th Street School.  The groundbreaking for the project was held in March, 2016.  The District plans to hold summer classes in the Payne School and the first full year will begin in September 2018.

The school is developed on the site of the former United Hospitals.  The medical facility had a legacy of pioneering specialized treatment for eye and ear afflictions as well as caring for babies and crippled children.  It became plagued by debt and mismanagement and closed in 1997.

The Essex County Schools of Technology District is New Jersey’s first and one of its largest Vocational Technical School Systems.

Created in 1914, the school system provides both occupational and academic instruction for high school and adult students in Essex County.  In addition, the system provides adult programs in the evening at its Adult Training Center at Newark Tech.

The district has an enrollment of approximately 2,200 students and provides high level state-of-the-art career skill development and academic opportunities in over 25 occupational areas.  Learn more about Essex County’s Vocational Technical Schools.

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