Why does Englewood and Bergen County need a public arts magnet high school?

The establishment of a public arts magnet high school will provide economic, educational, social, and cultural benefits to the City of Englewood and Bergen County. The high school would address the needs of many students for whom the County's Academy program for Visual and Performing Arts is too small. The school would be a major part of a regional plan to make Bergen County an arts and culture destination that would attract tourists, and new residents and businesses, from across the tri-state region to the Hackensack River Basin.
What is the plan for a community center in Englewood?
 
The comprehensive proposal for the high school also includes a plan for a Community Center. The Advisors & Supporters believe both a public arts high school and a community center are needed. It recommends placing the Community Center, a dedicated building architecturally designed from the ground up, in MacKay Park close to the rink, swimming pool, and athletic fields.
How will the community center be funded?
 
Long-term lease payments from the County to secure the Englewood property for the Arts High School will be earmarked for paying for a state-of-the-art-Community Center. It is proposed that the Community Center be the subject of a national architectural competition with the theme of "Bridging Diversity." An objective would be to draw Englewood's four wards together to form a community based on a common vision.

Who would the school serve?

The proposed high school will serve approximately 300 students from Englewood and Bergen County. Students would be admitted using portfolio and audition-based admissions criteria. The school will offer a comprehensive academic curriculum as well as opportunities for hands-on training with arts industry professionals. In addition, the facility will feature programs in the evenings, on weekends, and in the summer for students and non-students from Englewood and surroundings municipalities. 

Why is the City of Englewood well-positioned to be the home of a public arts high school?

Englewood has an extensive history and legacy, as a cultural hub for the arts and artists. Many well known artists have lived and worked in Englewood, including The Sugar Hill Gang, J. B. "Dizzy" Gillespie, Eddie Murphy, Alicia Keys, John Travolta, George Benson, The Isley Brothers, and Sarah Jessica Parker, among many others. In addition, a number of arts and cultural institutions are located in the community, including Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), the Lillian Booth Actors' Home, Arts Horizon, ArtsBergen at the Northern NJ Community Foundation, and others. The fact that bergen PAC, the region's leading performing arts venue, is based in Englewood, qualifies the city as the ideal location for a public arts high school. 

Where would the high school be located?

The proposed high school would be located in the 120-year-old Russell C. Major Liberty School, an architecturally distinguished building located on the historic Five Corners site in Englewood's downtown district. The school is named for Russell Cameron Major, a revered teacher, coach, and community leader in Englewood whose legacy would continue with this public arts high school. Renovating the school, and developing the extended site as an Arts District, would also include recognizing the Revolutionary War history of the site by creating a small park with appropriate displays.

Who has been involved in exploring the possibility of a public high school for the arts at the Russell C. Major Liberty School?

Advisors & Supporters, a community-based, grassroots group of volunteers in Englewood, came together and reviewed the rationale for a public high school for the arts that was first presented to the city n 2008. This use was confirmed in the 2014 Master Plan. The proposed school would be a collaborative effort between the Bergen County Technical School and Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York. Proponents believe this extraordinary partnership of two institutions ranked nationally near the top in their respective fields, represents an extraordinary, once-in-a-generation opportunity for Englewood, Bergen County, and the State of New Jersey. The Advisors & Supporters emphasize that extensive public engagement will be sought for the project's development. Interests has been expressed by Bergen County and the City of Englewood, but neither have made commitments.

What is the proposed school's mission?

The mission of the school will be derived from those of its "parents," the Bergen County Technical Schools and LaGuardia High School in New York. That is, to deliver high quality education equitably and inclusively. The school, being in Englewood will include special accommodations for Englewood students.

What is the proposed school's program?

The school would offer a full, comprehensive high school academic curriculum. As a magnet arts school it would hold classes in performing arts, music, dance and visual arts, as well as classes in the production arts: stage craft, costume design, lighting and audio technologies, etc. Instruction would include a wide variety of programs for residents of Englewood and surrounding towns after school, on weekends, and in the summer.

Where can I find more information about the proposed public arts high school?

For more information, go to the ‘Home’ tab on the website, libertyschoolforthearts.org. Scroll down to the ‘Vision' section and read the Architectural Concept Plan. 

How will the public arts school be funded?

It will be a County School built, operated, and paid for as are the other County schools. The school's advocates believe that this school represents a uniquely remunerative investment for Englewood and the County. This is not just another school. For Englewood it will anchor an arts district transforming West Palisade Avenue and energizing businesses of every type throughout the City. A direct, working link with one of New York's flagship cultural institutions presents Englewood and Bergen County with a number of extraordinary opportunities for our students and residents that could hardly be imagined until now. 

What can you do?
  • Visit our website, libertyschoolforthearts.org, and watch the interviews with leading performers and artists. Tell your friends about it. Share the website's address with them.
  • Write your representatives expressing support for the proposed public arts high school.