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More on the NJ Mandarin charter

April 27, 2011

Mandarin Chinese-English charter school seeking zoning board variance

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

By Carmen Cusido

SOUTH BRUNSWICK — A proposed Mandarin Chinese-English charter school that has drawn fire for seeking to draw students from the West Windsor-Plainsboro, Princeton and South Brunswick school districts has chosen a location in Middlesex County.

Princeton International Academy Charter School, or PIACS, came before the South Brunswick zoning board on April 14, seeking a zoning variance for 12 Perrine Rd. The building is currently zoned for office and commercial use, and PIACS wants a waiver to use it for educational purposes, said Parker Block, the school’s spokesman and one of its co-founders.

Zoning waivers for parking needs were also requested, said a South Brunswick planning board official.

Block said Helena May, a former PIACS board member, started a group called 12P Associates to buy the facility at 12 Perrine Rd. The current owner of the property is using part of the space as a liquor storage facility, Block said.

PIACS was set to open last September at the former St. Joseph’s seminary in Plainsboro, but could not obtain a certificate of occupancy or cross other hurdles in time. The charter school, approved in January 2010 by the state Department of Education, needed a variance and a site plan waiver from the Plainsboro Zoning Board to use the seminary site.

At the South Brunswick location, PIACS would share the space with Wing Hua International School, a privately operated Mandarin-English immersion school, which also wants to move to that location, Block said. One of PIACS’ board members is also on the board of that school.

If the zoning is not changed for educational purposes, then 12P Associates will not buy the Perrine Road building. PIACS has until June 30th, the deadline proposed by the state Department of Education, to submit all their paperwork, including a certificate of occupancy.

Read more here.

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