BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Students weren't alone in having summer school assignments to complete by September. The Bernards Township school district undertook some major projects this year, which are now either complete - or close to being finished - as the school district prepares to open on Sept. 8.

As part of Monday's Board of Education meeting, school officials, and any members of the public in the audience at the meeting, toured new school facility improvements undertaken this summer.

New turf on Lee Field at Ridge High School

Sign Up for E-News

That evening, the Red Devils football players already were practicing on a new artificial turf surface laid down on Lee Field behind Ridge High School. 

Installation of a new artificial turf field, with bright lines and a thick coat of turf grass, was completed about two weeks earlier, school officials said.

The new turf replaces a surface that was about a dozen years old, said Schools Superintendent Nick Markarian.

The cost of the new turf surface was $289,200, said Rod McLaughlin, business administrator for the school district.

The field drained well during the rains of the past two weeks, observed David Harding, the school district's facilities manager. Much of the original drainage design remained intact until the new surface, he added.

New wellness center for all Ridge students

A new wellness center in a former storage area of Ridge High School was still being worked on last Monday, but the center - which will have weight and aerobic equipment and wll be open to all students, was beginning to take shape.

Bricks were laid on a flooring where the weight lifting equipment will be placed, although a glass door that looks out on Lee Field had not yet been installed. An elevator to make the center accessible to handicapped students already was in place, Harding said.

The center will cost about $462,000, but $250,000 of that amount was raised by the Ridge Sports Foundation, McLaughlin said. 

School officials said the room will be mostly complete by the time the school year begins.

Heating and cooling systems at Cedar Hill Elementary School and Ridge

Teachers who entered their classrooms at the Cedar Hill Elementary School to prepare for the new school year apparently have been pleased with the school's new cooling units, which also provide dehumidifying that school officials said can help prevent mold in the building.

Old systems at both Cedar Hill and Ridge have been replaced with new heating and air ventilation units at both schools, as well as air conditioning and software upgrades to control those systems in both buildings, McLaughlin said.

The cost of the four projects at the two buildings was $2.13 million, he said. However, the state is due to reimburse 40 percent of that cost, he added. Previously, the school district had submitted an application for building upgrades to gain a portion of available state funding for that purpose.

Harding said the new systems monitor temperatures, and allow remote adjustments if a teacher registers a complaint that a room is too warm or cold. He said that the teachers in individual classrooms will have some control over the temperature, however.