|21 July 1955 Home News|
Manville had been throwing around the idea of building their own high school since at least 1938 when New Deal money was available. With this new urgency, they went to the voters and got approval for their first high school.
Hillsborough, apparently, felt no such urgency.
Sure, the residential housing boom that began in the township around 1955 brought mostly young families with young children, but it's hard to believe that the Hillsborough school board couldn't figure out that those little kids would grow into teenagers.
|31 August 1963 Home News|
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, students in Hillsborough might elect to go to high school in Somerville, or Bound Brook, or even Flemington - if they went at all - but in the post World War II period Hillsborough began sending all of their high school students to Somerville on a tuition basis, as did many other Somerset County municipalities. As Somerville High School began to overflow with students, the Somerville Board of Education warned the other towns that they would need to start making other plans.
Before the start of the 1963/64 school year, Hillsborough was told that 9th graders would no longer be accepted at Somerville. Hillsborough's only recourse was to retain the previous year's 8th graders at the Consolidated School (HES) and have them complete 9th grade alongside the 7th and 8th graders. And the school board began looking at sites to build a high school.
|Architect's model of the original Hillsborough High School plan.|
12 July 1964 Home News
The board reportedly considered five different possible sites for the school, but only revealed to the public the final choice at the intersection of Amwell and Homestead Roads. On January 23, 1964, voters approved transferring $90,000 from surplus to capital outlay in order to buy the 50-acre parcel from Claremont Developers.
Plans were drawn up for a $2.9 million school that, according to a report in the Home News:
"...21 academic classrooms, four science laboratories, three industrial arts rooms, six business education rooms, 1,000-seat gymnasium, 600-seat auditorium, 100-seat library. 350-seat cafeteria, 125-foot tiered lectured room, and 10 small classrooms."
A referendum was set for July 1964, with a target date for completion of September 1966. Confident that the referendum would obtain voter approval, the school board passed on an offer of a five-year contract from Somerville to accept 10th, 11th, and 12th graders through 1969.
|15 July 1964 Courier News|
Unfortunately, four of the five township committee members, plus the tax assessor, did not back the school board, attacking the plan as being too expensive for taxpayers. On July 14, 1964, voters rejected the proposal by a better than 2-1 margin.