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New Brunswick community continues to speak out against selling of Lincoln Annex School

<p>The Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has looked at the land occupied by the Lincoln Annex School as the potential location for the new Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.</p>

The Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has looked at the land occupied by the Lincoln Annex School as the potential location for the new Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

Members of the New Brunswick community continue to voice their opposition to the potential sale of the Lincoln Annex School to the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH). 

RWJUH has been looking to possibly build the new Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey on the land currently occupied by the Lincoln Annex School, The Daily Targum previously reported in October 2019. The school hosts approximately 750 students in the New Brunswick Public District.

Charlie Kratovil, the editor of New Brunswick Today and former mayoral candidate, said that members of the community have been trying to get the Board of Education to change their plans.

“There’s now awareness among the community that’s going to be affected,” Kratovil said. “They’re starting to make their voices heard, and it’s really beautiful that that’s happening, but also really alarming that the Board of Education is not being responsive to the concerns.”

Kratovil said that the Board of Education has changed its practices to make it more difficult for people to voice their thoughts at its meetings.

“On a night when they had about 100 people coming to question them and challenge them on the school situation, they change their practices. They tried to limit the public’s ability to comment and so, thankfully, a lot of people in the audience didn’t take it sitting down,” he said. “They got out of their chairs, they yelled, they chanted. We have a right to speak and people did do their best to make their voices heard despite the board shutting them down.”

Kratovil also said that the Board of Education has postponed its next meeting for two weeks, and the Rutgers Board of Governors has moved the room for their next meeting to one that is significantly smaller.

“It seems like the Rutgers board and the Board of Ed are colluding to both try and suppress the opposition to their dastardly plan to destroy an elementary school,” he said.

If the Lincoln Annex School is shut down and sold to RWJ, the students will expect to move to the Warehouse School, he said.

“It’s a warehouse, it was built to be a warehouse, but it’s been used as a school in the past when previous promises to build new schools were broken,” Kratovil said. 

The cause has received growing support, including University groups that have spoken out to oppose the selling of the school.

The Rutgers University Student Assembly has recently passed a resolution condemning the conditions of the sale of the Lincoln Annex School.

“RUSA and listed sponsors condemn the sale of demolition of Lincoln Annex School before a new school is built for its students and advocates for an agreement that keeps in mind the fates of children and families affiliated with Lincoln Annex School,” according to the resolution.

RUSA President Jhanvi Virani was charged with the task of advocating for this cause at the University’s administrative level, according to the resolution.

Kratovil said that RUSA’s resolution also includes a number of co-sponsoring organizations, such as the Rutgers National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Residence Hall Association and RU Progressive. 

“It was such a pleasant surprise to see (RUSA) passed that resolution,” he said. “I had nothing to do with it. I didn’t even know they were considering it, I found out the next day.”

Neeharika Thuravil, a senior School of Arts and Sciences and co-president of RU Progressive, said that they are advocating for RWJ to build the Rutgers Cancer Institute at a different location, allowing the Lincoln Annex School to continue operating as a public educational institution. 

“We do not support the sale at the cost of sending Lincoln Elementary School’s students to a converted warehouse and do not stand for sacrificing the quality of education New Brunswick’s residents receive, especially as Rutgers stands as one of the largest institutions in the city with considerable influence,” Thuravil said.

The most recent Board of Education meeting, Kratovil said, was a critical moment.

“The last board meeting was really a turning point, where they really didn’t understand how much opposition there was until I said during my remarks, ‘Since you’re not going to let people speak, everybody who’s here against the sale of the school stand up,’ and practically the whole room stood up,” he said.

Kratovil said that they will continue to target groups, such as the New Brunswick City Council, the Board of Education and the Rutgers Board of Governors, in hopes that they can campaign and advocate against the sale of the Lincoln Annex School.

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