August 29, 2013 at 6:00 AM
CHATHAM, NJ - The expenditure of nearly $3.5 million for seven new classrooms at the high school was approved Wednesday night at the Chatham Board of Education meeting.
The board awarded $3,495,000 for the project to Tekton Development Corp. of New Brunswick. Tekton was the lowest of 11 bids submitted. The construction, known as Phase 2 of the high school expansion, is expected to be completed before the start of the 2014-15 school year.
"We had a very competitive bidding process," Superintendent Michael LaSusa said. "Seven classrooms doesn't give us seven new classrooms, which is kind of obvious. It gives a lot more flexibility to address other areas of needs, such as the space constraints in the media center and space constraints in the school counseling office. It can actually lead to repurposing of rooms to address other needs."
Originally, the board had budgeted $2.7 million to add four new classrooms, but decided there was enough capital reserve to add three more classrooms at no extra cost to Chatham taxpayers.
According to Peter Daquila, business administrator/board secretary, the balance in captial reserve at the end of June 30, 2013 was $3,242,000.
"In the 2013-14 budget, we budgeted a withdrawal of $3 million to fund the high school addition, the Washington Avenue parking lot, repaving at the high school, and tile abatement and replacement at Washington. At the end of fiscal 2012-13, we anticipate the ability to deposit $2.3 million into capital reserve for a total of $5.42 million. Approximately $1.2 million will be earmarked for the addition at the high school."
The four additional classrooms will be built in the back of the school, as a second floor to the addition built during Phase 1. A bridge connecting the new classrooms to the "C" Wing of the school is also part of the project.
LaSusa puts the total number of students in the District of the Chathams at 4,130. The only surprise is that there are 340 first graders. The board had anticipated 316 students. There are five first grade classes at Washington and four at Milton Avenue.