Much of James Monroe Elementary School in Edison was reduced to ash during last month's raging fire, but its formal exit is scheduled to begin on Friday.

Burned out James Monroe Elementary School in Edison (CBS New York)

Demolition of the Sharp Road building will take about a week, followed by a month or so of debris removal.

Lynda Zapoticzny, principal of the K-6 school, indicated she probably won't be on site for the start of the demolition work, noting it'd be too upsetting to watch.

"But I think all of us need it to happen so we can move on," she said.

The blaze was sparked by a school custodian who was illegally smoking on school grounds and failed to properly discard his cigarette.

Already looking ahead, the school board has requested proposals from architects to design the new James Monroe building.

Construction could take up to 16 months, according to Dr. Richard O'Malley, superintendent of Edison Township Public Schools.

James Monroe students use two buildings on the Middlesex County College campus as their new school for the rest of the year. (Townsquare Media NJ)

Meanwhile, the school's 500 students and staff members have been spending their days on the Middlesex County College campus. Two trailers were recently added to provide four additional classrooms.

"I think they've now come to terms that this is going to be their home for the remainder of the year," O'Malley said.

Come September, the students will be at their third location in less than a year -- St. Cecelia's School in Iselin, five miles away from the original James Monroe property.

"The lease has us there for two years," Zapoticzny said.

Students may not return to the original site of their school until September of 2016.