FLEMINGTON, NJ - Work continues in the Flemington-Raritan Regional School District on $42 million in districtwide improvements approved in a bond referendum last November.
In an update, Rich Alderiso, of the DI Group architectural firm, said the project is 40 percent complete and on budget.
“Your budget right now is in perfect shape,” Alderiso said via Zoom to the board of education during its hybrid board meeting. Some members of the board were at the district’s central office, while others joined remotely.
The two-year project includes renovations and upgrades to Barley Sheaf Elementary, Copper Hill Elementary, Francis A. Desmares Elementary, J.P. Case Middle, Reading-Fleming Intermediate and Robert Hunter Elementary, plus security upgrades and improvements. Many of those upgrades included cameras, equipment, communication system and door/alarm upgrades, while site improvements include parking lot upgrades, sidewalk, curb, fencing and drainage improvements.
The project also includes roof replacement at Barley Sheaf Elementary, Copper Hill Elementary, Francis A. Desmares Elementary, Reading-Fleming Intermediate and Robert Hunter Elementary; and window replacement and building envelope repairs at Reading-Fleming Intermediate School.
Finally, the project will see HVAC upgrades including air-conditioning and humidity control measures at Barley Sheaf Elementary, Copper Hill Elementary, Francis A. Desmares Elementary, Reading-Fleming Intermediate and Robert Hunter Elementary.
Thus far, five major referendum projects have been bid out and awarded. The year one goal was to have four major projects awarded by spring of 2020.
“We’ve actually bid and awarded one project early,” Alderiso said.
Electrical upgrades to support new HVAC units at Barley Sheaf, Francis A, Desmares, Robert Hunter and Reading-Fleming are complete.
“These have required many shutdowns of power throughout the district,” Alderiso said.
In addition to air conditioning and humidity control, the units will be equipped with smart controls.
“We’re also replacing equipment that operates fine, but is at the end of its useful life,” he said.
Roof replacements are also substantially complete at Barley Sheaf, Copper Hill and Robert Hunter.
“Luckily, we did not have a lot of hazardous materials in the existing roofs,” Alderiso said.
The thickness of the roof insulation was also increased, he said, which will help with heating and cooling costs.
“I want to thank the community for really making a decision that was cost effective,” said Superintendent Dr. Kari McGann. “The community really came out and supported that, and I am really grateful.”
Board president Tim Bart echoed the sentiment.
“I’m pleased that the community affirmed the investment,” he said.
Referendum projects will continue through summer 2021, and might push back the start date of the 2021-2022 school year.
Bart noted the projects are really a 30- to 40-year financial commitment for the community. The district estimated a tax increase of $114.67 per year for the average household in Flemington ($265,296 assessed value) and $270.23 per year for the average household in Raritan ($399,978 assessed value).
Voters in the district approved the referendums for school improvements in last year’s election.
The referendums were posed in two questions. The first – “Safety, Security and Structure” – was for $21.755 million, and the second – “Indoor Air Quality” – was for $20.308 million.
In Flemington, the first question was approved by more than 59 percent of the voters, 494 to 337. Borough voters approved the second question 482 to 348.
In Raritan Township, 54.4 percent of the voters voted in favor of the first question, 3,388 to 2,839. But the second question passed more narrowly, 3,175 to 3,048.
The state of New Jersey will pay back $14 million of the $42 million in debt services.