School’s back in session in Newark — but some buildings remain closed

Welcome to Chalkbeat Newark's weekly newsletter! Read about the first week of school, a high school that's still waiting on its building to open, and much more.

Also, please join us for lunch and conversation at our second annual Chalkbeat Newark Listening Session on Saturday, Sept. 21. This year's free event will focus on special education. All Newark parents, educators, and community members are welcome. Oh, and did I mention: lunch will be provided! 

— Patrick Wall, senior reporter

The big story

Newark Vocational High School

Newark Vocational High School had its grand re-opening last week — yet its building remains closed.

The revamped high school is supposed to get its own building after spending years in a shared campus. The building will be decked out with state-of-the-art facilities where students can learn trades like printing and culinary arts.

But the district was unable to complete renovations by the first day of school. So students have been relocated to a former elementary school building nearby. 

They are sharing the space with a school for children with multiple disabilities. That school has also been displaced while repairs are completed on its building.

Superintendent Roger León met with people from Newark Vocational last month to break the news. But he didn’t say when they will finally be able to move into their own building.

“The superintendent didn’t want to give us a date,” said a school employee. “He just said we’ll be there soon.”

Read the story.

What to watch

What else is happening around Newark schools.

As a new school year starts, some big changes are underway

  • What to know: Students headed back to school in Newark last week amid some major changes in the state’s largest school district.
  • Almost a quarter of Newark schools have new principals this school year. Superintendent León said he will hold them accountable: “I know how to remove principals who can’t get it done.”
  • The district is also revamping its online enrollment system and phasing out its family support center. Families can now visit any neighborhood school to handle enrollment matters.
  • Meanwhile, activists held a rally on the first day of classes to protest the school board’s threat to ban disruptive people from its meetings.
  • And amid the city’s lead crisis, León said that the water in the city’s schools is safe to drink.
  • One big question: Will the district and school-level changes improve student learning?

Newark news & events

Local education reporting and upcoming events.

Back to school…

  • Weequahic High School’s award-winning marching band showed off their talents on the first day of school. PIX11
  • Newark police officers and firefighters helped give students free back-to-school haircuts. Newark Patch
  • Students at Arts High School gave their vice principal a big surprise. RLS Media

Barringer High School…

  • Barringer’s new principal, who held the job nearly a decade ago, says his return is an “opportunity to finish what I started.” TAPinto Newark

School supper…

  • Newark does a better job than most districts in making sure that students who are eligible for subsidized lunches also eat supper at school. NJ Spotlight

Teacher appreciation…

  • Saint James African Methodist Episcopal Church donated $10,000 to Quitman Street School to help teachers pay for classroom supplies. TAPinto Newark

50th birthday…

  • Link Charter School, which began in the 1960s as a Catholic school, celebrated its 50th year in operation. TAPinto Newark

Teachers contract…

  • Opinion: Analysts at a conservative think tank argue that Newark’s new teachers contract returns to “a pay system poorly aligned with student learning goals.” The 74

News from Trenton & beyond

Reporting on statewide education issues that matter for Newark. 

Best in class…

  • New Jersey took the top spot in an annual ranking of state education systems based on school funding, academic achievement, and other factors. Education Week, NJ.com

State tests…

  • N.J. will keep its current standardized tests for another two school years, despite Gov. Phil Murphy’s campaign promise to quickly scrap them. NJ.com, NJ Spotlight

Teacher health care…

  • Two of the state’s top lawmakers have competing plans for teachers’ health benefits: One is designed to lower costs for teachers, the other cuts costs for taxpayers. NJ.com, Politico New Jersey

Murphy’s report card…

  • Gov. Murphy faces a number of unresolved education issues, including state testing changes, a school segregation lawsuit, and an overhaul of the state’s school facilities agency. NJ Spotlight

Teacher pay…

  • The average salary for N.J. educators last school year was $72,912, up 1% from the previous year. NJ Spotlight


  • The state will spend an additional $20 million to expand pre-k programs. NJTV

Extra credit

Want to showcase your school or an upcoming education event? Send me photos and details. 

Chalkbeat Newark Listening Tour

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