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JERSEY CITY-Jarmel Kizel Architects and Engineers Inc. recently completed work on a 20,500-square-foot addition at the Jersey City Community Charter School at 128 Danforth Ave. here. The new addition has nearly doubled the size of the existing school, which is located in a former catering hall.

The school serves 594 students in grades K-8, with 396 being located in the Danforth Ave. building. The school was founded by the Urban League of Hudson County in 1997 and opened its doors in September of that year with 77 kindergarten students. Since then the school has added a grade every year, with the addition of the eighth grade class in the 2005/2006 school year completing the organization of the school.

Jarmel Kizel has been involved with the school almost since its inception, initially helping with the permitting for modular classrooms, then providing architecture and engineering services for the renovation of the second floor into classrooms–the first floor had previously been renovated. The latest project, the three-story annex, includes classrooms, offices, a library, a “cafetorium” and a gym with a rooftop playground.

Schools are a specialty for Livingston-based Jarmel Kizel, which provided architecture and engineering services, including mechanical, electrical and plumbing, as well as civil and structural design on this project.

“The new addition was a special challenge because of the difficulties of organizing the construction in a live school environment on a tight urban site,” Irwin Kizel, a principal at Jarmel Kizel, tells GlobeSt.com. “But it has been enormously rewarding for our firm to play such a critical role in the development of an innovative new school with strong ties to students, parents and the surrounding community.”

Head of the school Carletta Martin-Goldston says that the completion of the new annex has allowed students to move out of eight modular classrooms on the school’s premises and into regular classrooms. In addition, it has provided new facilities for the types of innovative learning experiences that fulfill the school’s mission, including a multi-media center, a writing laboratory, a science laboratory and a “block room” for younger children.

The growth of the Jersey City Community Charter School mirrors the growth of the overall charter school movement. In the current school year, there are 62 operating charter schools in New Jersey serving nearly 20,000 students, according to a recent New Jersey charter public schools conference. Meanwhile, six more charter schools are set to open this fall.

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