BELMAR, NJ — Less than two weeks after voters approved nearly $9.7 million in funding for major improvements at Belmar Elementary School, the project’s first phase is already under way.

The Belmar Board of Education on March 19 awarded a $1.56 million contract to East Orange-based Frankoski Construction Co. for auditorium upgrades, which include new seating, flooring, ceiling, lighting and sound equipment, and a new a wheelchair lift for the stage to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

The work is expected to begin this summer and last through October.

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Frankoski’s bid was the lowest received among nine submitted to Spiezle Architectural Group of Hamilton, the school district’s architect, which prepared and reviewed all proposals.

While the contract includes $1.368 million for the bulk of the project, another $192,000 will ensure all ceiling and lighting costs are covered — putting it about $60,000 over the original cost estimate of $1.5 million.

Family-owned and operated since 1977, Frankoski is a general construction and project management firm with a portfolio that includes such educational clients as Rutgers University, Montclair State University and Seton Hall University, as well as the East Brunswick, Fort Lee and Madison school districts.

Under the Belmar school bond referendum approved on March 10, the project also includes:

  • $6.6 million in HVAC improvements, including installing all new classroom ventilators and a control system, and upgrading the electrical system.
  • $1.1 million for replacing floors in all classrooms and hallways, building new stairway landings and removing asbestos.
  • $500,000 for replacing windows to improve energy efficiency.

The state Department of Education (DOE) is picking up 40 percent of the cost, which will be reimbursed to the school district through annual debt service aid. As a result, school taxes will rise about $5 a month for a borough resident with a home assessed at nearly $555,000.

The HVAC and other related work at the 110-year-old school is slated to be completed from June 2021 through October 2021.

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