Holly Child Family Center Grand Opening

Tonight there was a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Holly Child Family Center in Millville. We made this a family affair. The school educates 555 three- and four-year-olds. The program is mandated by the Abbott decision.

For the past three and one-half years, these children have been educated in a series of trailers in parking lots. Most were located at Holly Heights, but there were some at Rieck Avenue School too. This building is a huge improvement over the facilities the students previously had.

The building used to be a Prudential Insurance structure. It then passed into the hands of Wheaton Glass. They leased it out to AARP. That group left years ago and there were no takers for a lease.

About five years ago, then superintendent of schools, Dr. Larry Miller, contacted Millville mayor James Quinn about leasing the building. This began the beginnings of tonight’s festivities. Quinn recruited state senator (then Assemblyman) Nick Asselta (R-1) and Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew (D-1) to help obtain the funds.

This is where School Construction Corporation entered the picture. The Holly Child Family Center was the first piece of real estate purchased under the $8.6 billion school construction tax bill passed without taxpayer approval. Whether it was the first school completed, I do not know, but I suspect it is not. The building was too small as originally built. A new wing was added. Construction delays were numerous. A school which was supposed to be ready for the start of the school year was not ready until immediately following the spring break. Teachers had to pack up their classrooms weeks ahead of time to give up their vacation to get ready for their students the following week. And it all happened without major stumbling blocks.

Tonight was a pleasant night where many folks took pride in their part of creating a wonderful new school for the youngsters. The program presented the speakers: master of ceremonies was Dr. Shelly Schneider, superintendent of Millville Public Schools, Millville Mayor James Quinn, Senator Nick Asselta, Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew, and some man representing School Construction Corporation. Schneider spoke. Quinn spoke. Asselta spoke. The guy from SCC spoke. Where was Van Drew? After the ceremony was over, the good Democrat showed up for the reception. Nothing like coming in just for the eats. He walked out with us early. It seems like the dentist missed the reason for tonight’s celebration.

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