Ravally: School Buildings Will Be Ready For Start Of School

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said that all “One Less Move” referendum projects are moving along, and all buildings will be ready for the start of school.

There will still be a few loose ends to tie up, but for the most part, district schools will be ready to open on Sept. 20, the Board of Education was told at its Aug. 23 meeting.

Schools Superintendent John Ravally gave the board its final update on the “One Less Move” referendum construction projects before the new school year begins.

“The good news is the projects are coming to an end,” Ravally said. “We will be in a position to open all of our schools on Thursday, Sept. 20, as planned.”

Township voters approved an $85 million referendum in December 2014 that paid for the new Claremont Road school, renovations and updates to the other elementary schools, and a realignment of the district into K-5 elementary schools, two grade 6-8 middle schools and the high school.

The biggest project, the Claremont Road school construction, is expected to be fully operational for its new students, Ravally said.

“The building will be ours by Sept. 10,” he said. “We should have it all set up and ready to receive students, the intention is by Sept. 17.”

He said that furniture delivery and classroom setup began Aug. 23.

“We expect the cafeteria is to be completed just prior to Labor Day,” he said. “The kitchen itself will be completed just after Labor Day.”

Classrooms are done and are being inspected, he said. The gym will be finished after Labor Day.

“All the rooms are labeled, all the teacher know where they will be going,” Ravally said.

The next biggest renovation project, Elizabeth Avenue School, is “moving along very nicely,” Ravally said.

The new parking lot and bus loop area should be finished by Labor Day, he said, while the renovated classrooms in the front of the building should be done the week after Labor Day. Also targeted for an after-Labor-Day completion is the new front entrance and the nurses’ suite, he said.

“We’ll have three bathrooms, two faculty rooms and a bathroom in the nurses’ room that won’t be complete when we open school, but should be complete shortly after,” he said. “And we’ll also have the kitchen that won’ be complete, but should be complete a couple weeks after we open.”

Ravally noted that the school operated all last year without a kitchen. Food was cooked at the high school and taken to Elizabeth Avenue, where it was served on carts. He said that would be what happens until the kitchen renovations are finished.

The school’s main office work won;t be finished, but the district anticipated that and moved the office temporarily into a classroom, he said.

“We’ll be fine as they complete that work, which we anticipate two or three weeks after we open,” Ravally said.

“Although it won’t be 100 percent, we anticipated that and we provisioned to be able to open school and function even at a higher level than we ended school, so we’re excited about that,” he said.

Conerly Road School is ready to go, “except for some traditional cleaning,” he said. A handicapped ramp at the back of the building needed repairs and a railing, and that was done, he said.

The McAfee Road School bathroom project should be finished “a day or two after Labor Day,” he said.

Replacement of about 16 doors in the Middle School at Sampson G. Smith should be finished by Sept. 15, Ravally said. Most of the bathrooms being renovated should be finished by Labor Day, he said.

At the Middle School’s Hamilton Street campus, door replacement should be done by Sept. 15, he said. Most of the bathroom renovations should be done by Labor Day, but three bathrooms will be ready about two or three weeks after school opens, he said.

Some of the bathrooms will have temporary partitions until the real ones come in from backorder, Ravally said.

The locker room renovations are just about finished, he said.

“The updating has done them justice,” he said.

Franklin Park School is “in great shape,” he said, and Pine Grove Manor school is “ready for day one.”

Hillcrest school, Ravally said, had some flooring replaced and is ready to open after some “routine maintenance.”

The high school sidewalk will require some work that will “clash” with opening day, Ravally said. That’s because the job had to be rebid after the initial bids came back over the district’s budget, he said.

The district will also look to repair parts of the high school parking lot, he said.

District-wide, a window replacement project will be run after school starts. The windows will be replaced in the evenings, Ravally said.

“It’s been a busy summer as always, but this summer brought about some unusual challenges for sure,” he said.


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