CRANFORD — Mayor Brian Andrews read a proclamation celebrating the First Aid Squad’s 70th anniversary and thanked members for their service at Tuesday night’s township committee meeting. He also presented them with a framed copy to commemorate the milestone.
“This is an all-volunteer squad,” MayorAndrews said. “This is a squad that relies on voluntary contributions. They do a tremendous amount.”
The Cranford First Aid Squad was officially commissioned in March of 1953. It provides education, awareness, and service to the community. AJ Kornberger andAllen Davies were presented with the proclamation.
“I want to thank you for having us tonight,” Mr. Kornberger said. “It’s always nice to see the recognition the township has for us. A lot has changed in the last 70 years, but the one thing that stays the same is that there are members of the community that want to help out, come in on their own free time, and serve the community. It’s a privilege to represent them today and represent them on a daily basis. Last year we had about 1,200 calls, give or take, ranging from everything from sick people to car accidents to strokes to falls, and everything in between. It’s nice to see the recognition and respect we get for that service. And here’s to hopefully 70 more!”
The mayor also thanked all the volunteers on the many committees and boards who have served the community.
“Thank you to everyone who stepped up,” Mayor Andrews said. “I also want to thank my colleagues. We were here until 11:30 last night planning who will serve on each of the committees and boards. It was a professional discussion, very collaborative. We concluded it later today. I want to thank the organizations who are doing good stuff in town.”
Scott Rubin, Ed.D., superintendent of Cranford Public Schools, also spoke publicly at the meeting about the upcoming vote for the bond referendum on Tuesday, January 23, 2024.
“The referendum has been in the works for many years,” Dr. Rubin said. “In fact, when we first started contemplating a bond referendum, we held listening sessions throughout the entire community, we put out a town-wide survey, and formed a steering committee. The survey indicated that the majority of respondents were in favor of the projects we were including in the referendum.”
School districts usually use bond funding to make repairs and renovations that would not be possible through the annual operating budget. This also gives the district state aid, which in this case would cover about 26 percent of the project costs. The referendum, if approved by the township’s voters, will make improvements to all eight of the district’s schools.
“If approved, we’d have funding to update spaces including science labs, culinary labs, multimedia labs, performing arts spaces and more,” Dr. Rubin said. “We would install air conditioning in large common spaces and update the electrical services to meet future HVAC demands and technology. We would improve accessibility to our schools and repair critical infrastructure.”
About 75 percent of the referendum is dedicated to upgrades and renovations throughout the school district and about 25 percent would account for the full-day Kindergarten additions, which would include building 16 new Kindergarten classrooms with restrooms at Brookside Place School, Bloomingdale Avenue School, Walnut Avenue School and Hillside Avenue School. Currently, only three full-day classes can be accommodated, and this is awarded through a lottery system.
“The state curriculum standards require much more now from today’s Kindergarteners,” Dr. Rubin said. “All but four districts in the state, including Cranford, have a plan for full-day Kindergarten and so we already have a plan for all-day Kindergarten that would be ready for the 2026-2027 school year.”
Also in attendance at the meeting was a group of nurses from RWJ Hospital in New Brunswick. They have been on strike since August to demand safe staffing. They encouraged the board to help them pass Senate Bill S304.
“My colleagues and I are undergoing an unfair labor practice strike for safe staffing,” said Lynn McCabe, a nurse from Cranford. “Safe staffing means there is a limit to the number of patients that a nurse on a hospital floor can take care of. For example, in an ICU, it would be one or two depending on how sick the patient is. Safe staffing, or nurse to patient ratios, are a matter of public health. Nobody wants the nurse that is taking care of their loved one to have to take care of more patients than they can safely handle. Our strike will be resolved soon, I hope. We look for you to adopt a resolution in support of Senate Bill S304.”
In response, the board said that it will support the nurses and thanked them for their dedication and service.
“I will work diligently to support the nurses’ efforts politically,” said Commissioner Gina Black.