A Brief History of the
Caldwell-West Caldwell Public Schools
The Borough of Caldwell and the Township of West Caldwell have played a prominent role in the development of the Caldwell-West Caldwell school system and the quality of education it provides. Cooperation of the two communities began in 1872 when state laws governing school districts permitted the villages of Caldwell, Franklin and Westville to consolidate into a "School Borough." The following year, the state empowered the Board of Education to sell old school properties and apply the monies to the erection of a new school.
Located on the corner of Prospect Street and Academy Road, Central School opened in 1875. The original school had four classrooms with a second floor for the residence of the janitor.
The Early 1900's
In 1903, a revised state law made the Caldwell, Franklin and Westville school consolidation illegal. By law, two or more municipalities, but not parts of municipalities, could combine to form one school district. Franklin and Westville, still part of Caldwell Township, had to resolve the problem or be deprived of the school that they had supported. Township representatives held several meetings to discuss the issue of having Franklin and Westville withdraw from the rest of Caldwell Township. The Bill of Incorporation passed the House in Trenton with no opposition. West Caldwell became a borough February 24, 1904.
On March 30, 1904, a special school meeting was held to vote on the consolidation of Caldwell and West Caldwell into one school district. The vote was in favor of consolidation.
The expansion of the school system was limited during its first 50 years with additions to the Central School building in 1892 and 1902. In 1904, the building was modernized with the installation of indoor plumbing facilities in the basement. Six years later, a new Caldwell High School was erected on Prospect Street between Central School and the cemetery. Tuition students from Hanover, Roseland, Livingston, Essex Fells, Verona, North Caldwell and Fairfield (Caldwell Township) all attended the school. Real estate development in the Borough of Caldwell led to the construction of Lincoln School which opened in 1915.
Following World War I, expansion began in West Caldwell and has continued to the present day. The first elementary school, Roosevelt School, opened in West Caldwell in 1923. Some of the Central School students were transferred to the new Roosevelt School. The following year, land was purchased for the erection of a more modern high school. The center portion of Grover Cleveland High School was built on Academy Road in 1925. The new plant provided for a separate auditorium, gym, locker rooms, a library and laboratories for chemistry, physics and biology classes.
The 1920's through 1950's
From 1926 to June 1930, population growth resulted in the movement of classes from the Central Elementary School to the old Prospect High School, and junior high classes were held in portable buildings adjacent to the school.
In September 1930, additions to the Grover Cleveland School doubled its capacity enabling the junior high students to move from the portable buildings into the existing high school. New features to the school included a cafeteria, manual training shop, a three-room home economics unit, counselor rooms, a teachers' room and a nurse's office. the high school currently offered three courses of study: college preparatory, commercial and general.
During the depression years, voters of the two boroughs voted down two expansion programs: acquisition of the Jefferson and Washington School sites. The post-World War II boom in development quickly changed Caldwell and West Caldwell from rural farming communities to sprawling suburban municipalities and in 1948, the first portion of Washington School was built for three times the original estimate. In that same year, all-purpose rooms were added to both he Lincoln and Roosevelt Schools. In 1945, Jefferson School was built and an addition to the Washington School was made to accommodate the increasing number of students in the school system. Wilson School, the third elementary school in West Caldwell, was built in 1958.
To accommodate the overcrowding at Grover Cleveland High School in the late 1950's, double sessions were held, On May 16, 1957, residents voted on the proposition by the Caldwell-West Caldwell, North Caldwell and Roseland Boards of Education to consolidate the and become one school district. Caldwell-West Caldwell residents voted against the proposition, resulting in the creating of the West Essex Regional School system and the construction of the James Caldwell High School in West Caldwell. Students transferred to the new high school in 1960, freeing the Grover Cleveland School for use by the junior high classes.
The 1960's and 1970's
The ensuing years brought continued expansion of the school system. Additions were made to the Roosevelt and Wilson Schools, and in 1967, the Harrison School was built at the end of Gray Street in West Caldwell. In addition, Central School was razed to make room for an addition to the Grover Cleveland Junior High School.
School enrollment began to decline in the 1970's. Roosevelt School was closed in 1978 and Harrison School was closed in 1984. In 1985, the district's administrative offices moved from Prospect Avenue School to Harrison School.
The 1980's and 1990's
To accommodate the changes in student population, the sixth grade was moved to the junior high in September 1985, creating Grover Cleveland Middle School.
The passing of the 1987 and 1997 bond referendums provided many important school renovations, including new high school science laboratories, technology upgrades, middle school library and classroom renovations, replacement windows, and maintenance improvements, including boilers and roofs.
The Year 2000 and Beyond
Today, the Caldwell-West Caldwell School District enrolls more than 2,650 students across seven school buildings -- James Caldwell High School, Grover Cleveland Middle School, Jefferson Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School, Washington Elementary School, Wilson Elementary School, and Harrison School, now home for the school administration, pre-school, pre-school disabilities, and LLD-Harrison classes, and Special Education office.
Staffed by 230 teachers, 15 administrators, and 210 support staff, including secretaries, custodial/maintenance staff and part-time aides.
Each year, more than 90% of our graduates attend schools of higher education and student achievement is well-above state averages. James Caldwell High School is consistently recognized by New Jersey Monthly magazine as one of the top 75 high schools in the state.
The high school offers a comprehensive curriculum, including academics, visual and performing arts and practical arts. In addition, the district has made a large investment in technology labs and equipment for all students. To meet the academic needs of all students, we offer more than 15 advanced placement courses and there is a well-defined program for remedial and educationally disabled students.
In December 2007, the residents voted in favor of a new bond referendum to renovate and improve all of the district's school buildings. These renovations and upgrades include fire alarms, roof replacements, masonry repairs, new boilers and accessories, electrical service upgrades, resurfacing of parking lots and blacktop areas, field work and ADA upgrades at the high school, small group instruction rooms, auditorium upgrades and repairs at the middle and high schools, and more.