School Board Moves Ahead on Referendum, Energy Saving Projects

More than $9 million worth of contracts related to the proposed school referendum and energy saving program were approved at the Nov. 21 Board of Education meeting.

The board awarded a $6,958,910 contract to SSP Architectural Group, Bridgewater, for architectural design and administrative services for the ambitious referendum projects and the Energy Savings Improvement Program.

Another contract, worth 2,060,631, was awarded to Pisctaway based Design Resources Group to collaborate with SSP on the architectural design and administrative services work for the referendum projects.

The district is waiting to hear from the state on grant applications for the projects which, it is hoped, would ease the tax impact on property owners. The board hopes to bring the $85 million referendum before voters in the Spring.

The referendum project includes the construction of a new Pre-Kindergarten to 5th Grade school on Claremont Road, as well as the expansion of Samson G. Smith and Elizabeth Avenue schools and the renovation all other schools, except for the high school.

The renovations and expansions will result in Samson G. Smith and Franklin Middle schools being grade 6-8 middle schools, and Hillcrest, Pine Grove Manor, Conerly Road, McAfee and Franklin Park and its annex being Pre-Kindergarten to grade 5 schools.

Schools Superintendent Edward Seto has said that the current grade configuration is problematic, especially with the 5th and 6th grades in one school.

The $8.4 million energy savings project was approved by the board in September. The project is expected to save the district about 30 percent of its current energy costs.

More than 100 projects are planned for every school in the district. The work will include lighting, new boilers, ventilators and air conditioning.

The district and its consultants are in the process of getting necessary permits. After that, the individual projects will be designed.

The project, which must also be approved by the state Board of Public Utilities, is designed to be self-funding in 15 years.


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