It's no longer just a hope – with $600,000 in the bank, a coalition of Ridgewood parents will see the first envisioned by former RHS principal Jack Lorenz.
RHS Learning Commons, an offshoot of the high school Home and School Association (HSA), reported to the school board Monday that thanks to an outpouring of support, it's just a matter of time before the high school library is demolished and built anew.
The original proposal – just an estimate – projected the construction work to total about $600,000, with an additional $250,000 still needed for the interior, including technology.
"From the minute we started this project the entire community has really embraced this project and been really behind it," RHS HSA President Lori Weil told Patch Tuesday. "Next year's seniors will benefit from a new and improved Learning Commons."
The three-month project is likely to start once finals end, with the ribbon cutting projected for mid-to-late September. The library hasn't seen meaningful work done in about 50 years.
Said Weil: "One of the reasons I was so excited to become Home and School president for the high school this year was because I think this is a really exciting project, both for the students at Ridgewood High School and those coming up the ranks, but also it's an opportunity to bring our community together to work for the whole town."
The Ridgewood Education Foundation (REF) provided an early dose of enthusiasm for the project, donating $100,000. The Ridgewood Board of Education also provided $400,000. Various donors round out the remaining $100,000, thus far. Support, Weil said, has been strong among those of all educational levels, particularly those with students in the middle schools.
The Learning Commons group is hoping to get more donations before the gala re-scheduled for Jan. 11.
"We dealt with some challenges which is why postponed the fundraiser," Weil said, citing Hurricane Sandy's wrath.
The fundraiser is bolstered by a new schools committee set up to expand the focus of education-related projects in the years to come.
Dubbed the "07450 Committee" and boasting 100 members, parents represented by all district schools as well as empty nesters will be exploring how to keep the momentum going.
"It's really been a true community effort and everybody's come together," Weil said. "Our idea is with this 07450 schools committee is we've laid the foundation for the schools going forward to continue to work on a common purpose, whether it be at the high school or somewhere else in town."