The History Behind the Creation of Franklin School
In 1891 the people residing in the southern part of Schraalenburgh were unhappy when the School District decided to build a new school farther north than the prior one serving the area. They chose to petition the authorities to create a new school district so they could build a new school in the southern portion of Schraalenburgh. They were granted permission and a two-room schoolhouse was erected on Palisade Avenue, which stood at the site of the present Washington School. The school served 25 pupils from Bergenfield, Dumont and Tenafly.
In June of 1894, by referendum the entire area encompassing the new school district separated from the rest of Schraalenburgh and created the Borough of Bergenfield.
In 1905 the two-room wooden schoolhouse was becoming too small so a referendum was passed to create a new eight room schoolhouse. On September 4, 1906 the new eight room schoolhouse was dedicated. It was simply known as "the school". It was the first school in Bergenfield to have electric lights. In 1908, Laura Lachmund was hired as a teacher. She later became the principal at Franklin School.
In September of 1908, to meet the needs of the growing community, the Board of Education appointed a committee to locate land on the west side of town for a possible school. In October of 1908 the committee reported on finding a site at Franklin Avenue between Church Street and Main Street belonging to Ann Tyson and being available for the sum of $5,000. On December 8, 1908 a referendum passed 91 to 66 to bond $40,000 to purchase land and build a new school. In January the Board of Education hired the firm of Wilder & Whyte as the architects for the new school. In 1909 Franklin School was built at West Church and Prospect Streets. On February 19, 1909 the Board of Education decided to call the new school Franklin School. On September 6, 1909 the cornerstone of Franklin School was laid. On September 7, 1910 Franklin School was dedicated.
Franklin School Opens Its Doors
Franklin School was erected in 1909 as a duplicate of Washington School. On Wednesday September 7, 1910 Franklin School had its official dedication ceremony. Franklin School opened its doors as a K -12 school for 110 students. The first school budget was $15,000 and principals who served were Mr. Ackerman, Mr. Hepner and Mr. Conover. In 1912 the student enrollment was 181. In June of 1913 the High School at Franklin School was disbanded, in accordance with order of the State Board of Education. In November 1913 Nathan Conover, supervising principal left, and, teacher Laura Lachmund was appointed principal of Franklin School. In 1914 J.B. Hambright was appointed supervising principal. In 1914 the Borough of Bergenfield re-graded Church Street which, in turn, required the Board of Education to erect a retaining wall on the West Church Street and Franklin Avenue. In 1917 the Board of Education granted permission to the "Home Guard" to use the grounds of Franklin School for drills. In 1917 and 1918 Franklin School planted "Victory Gardens." In 1918 school was closed for 10 days due to lack of coal. In 1919 Roy W. Brown was hired as supervising principal. In 1920 Laura Lachmund former teacher Gertrude Sugden became principal of Franklin School. In 1923 Franklin School enrollment was 428, and in 1929 enrollment was 344. In 1940 Franklin School was a K-6 school with a student enrollment of 274 students. In 1949 a referendum passed and an addition was erected between 1949 and 1950. In 1954 another referendum passed to add a third addition to Franklin School.
Franklin School Today
At the present day Franklin School serves 365 students in grades K-5. The student population reflects the cultural and linguistic diversity of the community with multiple languages spoken at home including Spanish, Tagalog, Cebuano, Portuguese and Malayam. The current principal is Rosemary LaGamma who first came to Franklin School as a teacher in 1968. She served as a teacher for 14 years until she became the principal at Washington School in 1982. In 1986 she came back to her home away from home.
Franklin School is an essential and vibrant part of the Bergenfield community. Its staff provides students with meaningful educational experiences by developing many initiatives and strategies that are necessary for meeting the individual needs of Franklin School's diverse population. The Franklin School community believes in its mission that children come first. Its purpose is educating the whole child by promoting literacy, good character and implementing curriculum to meet state standards.
Faculty collaboration and learning communities produce initiatives that focus on students and provide for a child-centered learning environment. The use of varied teaching styles and techniques - learning centers, cooperative learning, collaborative teaching, flexible grouping, inclusion and technology - are fused into instruction to meet the demands of an ever changing student population. Performance measures are designed to gauge how the district goals, objectives and the New Jersey Core Curriculum Standards are met. Periodic benchmark testing in Literacy and Mathematics provides data that encourage differentiated instruction. Annual results of state assessments in grades 3, 4 and 5 are used to measure and track student performance. Data are disseminated to staff for continuous review, analysis and improvement of instruction. Teachers are held accountable for the achievement of all students.
Technology is utilized in every classroom providing students with the opportunity to learn keyboarding, to research, and to write. Students deliver oral presentations through the use of Smart Boards and Star Boards. Three laptop labs are accessible to all teachers and students.
Innovative teaching styles and methods, creative teachers, and a close relationship with parents make Franklin School a successful nurturing learning environment. Through ongoing parent/teacher communication and input, parents are active participants in the learning process. An active Parents Association and a functioning Building Leadership Team create a partnership between the school and community.
Special thanks to Vernon Cox, Bergenfield historian, for providing us with a detailed history of Franklin School.