Education

Glen Rock BOE Mulls Referendum Infrastructure Projects

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GLEN ROCK, NJ –  An architect presented the Glen Rock Board of Education with an overview of four proposed projects in all six of the district’s schools slated for a referendum vote on March 12, 2019.

During a special work session meeting on June 18, John Carton of Parette Somjen Architects told the board that there would be six separate applications per school with a schematic design, the documents for which must be in the hands of the state Department of Education by Sept. 13 should school officials plan on a March referendum.

While the referendum cost was not divulged, trustees said previously their spending target was $10 million, the new air conditioning units for the district’s four elementary schools – Richard E. Byrd, Coleman, Alexander Hamilton and Central – at the top of the priority list. Business Administrator said the board could get up to 40 cents on the dollar back from the state Department of Education in debt service aid for the air-conditioning project if funded via a referendum.

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Unbearably hot and humid temperatures in a number of classrooms in the aforementioned schools prompted the board to consider moving forward with the air-conditioning proposal which would include a new Building Management System to provide the schools with proper heating, cooling and ventilation. That very day, elementary school students were dismissed early after temperatures hovered in the low 90s with a heat index of nearly 100, according to the National Weather Service.

While an update was not given on the cost of the project, a previous estimate was roughly $6.75 million.

The board is also looking at auditorium renovations to Central School, which include new seating and providing a lift from the hallway to create accessibility to the stage as well as acoustic improvements and new flooring. Business Administrator Michael Rinderknecht said a refurbished auditorium at Central School could free up space at the high school to alleviate congestion.

Sprucing up the playing field at Alexander Hamilton School is another wish list item up for consideration on the referendum that would include refurbishing the natural grass playing field, replacing the malfunctioning irrigation system and installing a new fence between the property and the PSE&G right-of-way. The scope of the work would also include studying the soil for contamination in 12 locations. New field lighting is not being considered, as the board’s intention is to conduct a “basic treatment” of the field and strictly “fix what’s broken” given that additional items may “harm” their chances of the referendum passing, Findley said.

Lastly, the board is reviewing three renovation options for the Glen Rock High School and Middle School Media Center. The first option, which Carton calls the “base design,” includes an HVAC upgrade with new ceilings, lighting, carpeting and removing and replacing the circulation desk. In addition to option one, options two and three consist of separating the middle school from the high school sides of the media center with a glass partition and converting computer labs to a makerspace and TV studio, respectively, based on what the board is willing to spend.

“Until I know there is educational value in options two and three, it’s hard for me to say, ‘let’s hire you for that extra money,’” said Board Member Megan Findley to Carton.

Interim Superintendent Bruce Watson said he was in touch with the school principals who expressed interest in option three.

“During the winter this particular room is crowded,” explained Watson to the board. “And in order to let the middle school continue with their classes using the media [center], they felt if they sectioned it off glass-wise, that could be ongoing classroom space they could use even when this side is crowded. Then we expanded the thoughts of looking at the rooms.”

Watson added that with the distribution of laptops in the next two years, they could forgo the computer lab and turn the space into a makerspace and TV studio.

“That’s a lot of where they want to take Glen Rock,” said Watson.

The board will reconvene in July for further discussions on the proposed referendum.

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