TRENTON, NJ (Mercer) – More than a dozen people were left homeless by a Tuesday evening (Feb. 7) blaze that damaged two homes and injured one firefighter. It was about 8:55 p.m. when firefighters from Engines 7, 10, and 6, Ladder 2 and Rescue 1 were dispatched to 44 McKinley Avenue after a resident called 911 to report the home was filling up with smoke. When the crew of Engine 7 arrived on scene, they found flames already burning through the roof of the home next door – 46 McKinley Avenue, which occupied the right side of a 2.5-story duplex shared by 44 McKinley (the left side). The “All Hands” signal for a working fire was transmitted and additional firefighters from Engines 1 and 3, Ladder 4, and Special Services 1 responded. Heavy fire conditions were encountered by firefighters on the second and third floors of 46 McKinley Avenue. Firefighting efforts were reportedly complicated by an interior ceiling collapse and a hose that was damaged while firefighters were flowing water on the flames. The bulk of the fire was extinguished within about a half hour. Both sides of the duplex sustained significant damage. The Red Cross was requested to the scene to provide temporary shelter for more than a dozen displaced residents, including two children. One firefighter reportedly was transported to a local hospital to be treated for unspecified injuries.
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–The “State of the Schools” is strong, reports Robbinsville Schools Superintendent Brian Betze during a recent report to the community about the school district’s priorities and focus for the future.
Betze detailed the ongoing growth of the suburban school district, which had only served students in grades K-8 prior to 2004. The district’s population now includes pre-kindergarten students through 12th grade, as the three Robbinsville schools continue to grow and evolve, reflecting the changing demographics of the township.
Over the past 12 years, total enrollment has increased by 310 students to 3,092 for the 2022-23 school year. The largest class size is the Class of ’23, with 273 students. The lowest class is kindergarten, with 144 students.
The Robbinsville schools now have 430 employees, of whom 296 are certified staff, 41 are instructional assistants and the remainder comprise the administration, assistants and other individuals who make the district run efficiently, such as bus drivers and maintenance staff.
Betze said school officials are most pleased with student performance, as the Robbinsville schools rank among the top 20% in the state in terms of standardized testing. The high school has a 97.5% graduation rate, with 96% of students enrolling in college, while others are attending technical school or entering the workforce.
“The focus of the Robbinsville schools is all about college and career readiness,” Betze said, noting the high school features 17 advanced placement courses, robotics and technology offerings and a dual enrollment program with Mercer County Community College, where Robbinsville has the only high school students on the West Windsor campus.
Per-pupil spending for the 2021-22 school year was $14,836 for the Robbinsville schools, compared with the state average of $18,208.
Betze said the school district also offers a nurturing staff, with counselors and clinicians focused on social and emotional learning, mental health and a gifted and talented program. There are also numerous educational and transitional services for students with disabilities, such as the SOAR program that provides real-life job training both on and offsite.
“Extracurricular activities also provide a channel for reinforcing the lessons learned in the classroom,” Betze said. “We offer students the opportunity to apply academic skills in a real-world context, which is all part of a well-rounded education.”
He noted that 677 students participate in high school clubs, such as the robotics program that is hosting a national competition in March, extensive performing arts and visual arts offerings and athletic programs that continually win league and state championships.
Looking forward, the school district has launched a five-year strategic plan process, to be completed by June, involving 109 community volunteers in a series of meetings. The first meeting, comprising parents, residents, school staff and 10 students, held its first meeting on January 31.
There are also capital improvement needs that will be addressed, such as classroom upgrades, new security features, parking lot paving, energy-efficient upgrades, HVAC repairs, high school auditorium updates and even changing the logo on the high school football field.
“In closing, I am very proud to say the state of our schools is very, very strong,” Betze said. “By continuing to work together, we will make the Robbinsville Public Schools the preeminent school system our children – and this community – deserves.”
During the “State of the Schools,” the superintendent also highlighted the recipients of the Superintendent’s Leadership Awards, presented at school board meetings to students, staff and community leaders who continually serve as role models. In addition, student council and executive council leaders were celebrated.
UPPER FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Around 1:00 p.m. New Jersey State Police, Monmouth County Park Rangers, Hope Fire Company/Upper Freehold Township Firefighters and Allentown/Captial Health EMS responded to Clayton Park on Emley’s Hill Road for an injured hiker in the woods. Emergency workers located the injured hiker about 300 yards in the woods and removed the hiker to a waiting ambulance by a litter basket more commonly known as a “Stokes Basket” The person was transported with a minor injury to a local hospital by Allentown/Capital Health EMS,
EWING TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Around 10:55 a.m. Ewing Township Police, Firefighters and EMS all responded to Lower Ferry Road and Parkway Avenue for a reported crash with entrapment. It was unclear if anyone was transported to the hospital. The road was closed for hours for a crash investigation and traffic light replacement. No further details about the crash are available.
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