NUTLEY, NJ - Nutley Public Schools and the Nutley Board of Education are hosting a series of town hall meetings to discuss the need to create new classroom and learning space to meet the program needs of the district.
Following the formal presentation, audience members were allowed to pose questions and make statements.
“The feedback from the community may redirect us.” Nutley Board of Education President Carnicella said on opening the Yantacaw Town Hall to questions.
To reinforce the district’s need for input, Dr. Glazer added that several individuals had contacted her and requested ‘make sure whatever happens we get rid of the trailers and don’t bring them back.’
Questions, Ideas and Feedback YANTACAW
A vocal crowd of approximately 70 parents and citizens attended the first of five Town Hall meetings on Jan. 17th. In addition, several staff members and all BOE members attended.
Regarding the Roche re-development a parent asked: ‘how do you propose these construction plans to us when there are so many unknowns at Roche?’ President Carnicella responded that the district can’t wait on the “unknowns.
“We are currently at capacity.” Superintendent Julie Glazer explained ‘capacity is the available space for the effective delivery of instruction.’ She said. “It is not occupancy like a fire code.”
Responding to questions about the proposed construction to Yantacaw, Dr. Glazer informed that the proposed multi-purpose room needed to be a shared space: not just gym or cafeteria activities. She also said air conditioning was eliminated when deciding what needed to be cut from the original $96 million figure, due to high installation and monthly costs of ongoing maintenance.
Joe DiCara, principle with DiCara Rubino Architects, answered the question: Is the referendum based on contract price or is it base on estimates? He explained that there is a process from concept to plans to approval. For referendums, NJ requires that after plans are developed, the state looks at and hopefully approves the overall plan. It then identifies what state aid the district would receive. A number based on cost estimates is determined and the district goes out for referendum for that bond amount. Once voters approve the referendum, the district prepares a final document and begins construction. The district then bonds as it goes along the process.
The $66.5 Million is based on cost estimates prepared by DiCara Rubino. According to DiCara, his firm contracts for 85% of the schools in New Jersey. He said that for projects of this magnitude, the state requires that an approximately 10% contingency is built in ‘to accommodate any potential unforeseen conditions during construction’.
A Yantacaw parent expressed concern for passing the referendum for ‘this huge amount’. She asked if it was possible to rethink the plan, do only what was required to achieve the middle school model, instead of doing it all at once with the possibility of it not passing. She said, “I’m thinking there are Nutley residents and taxpayers who are maybe not thinking about property values.”
Glazer informed the attendees ‘approximately 50% of the potential voters are residents without children in the district.’ She said they either had children who have not started school yet or whose children had already gone through the system.
Concern for parking for additional staff and traffic flow changes as a result of proposed plans at the Middle school was expressed. Carnicella responded. “We will figure out a way to handle parking. [However] It is lower on the priority list than getting educational spaces.”
Does the district have a strategy for reaching out to citizens who do not attend the town meetings?
“The same way that you would run any type campaign for a vote.” Glazer explained you need to first define the ideas and concepts, get input and get the word out. All local clubs, organizations, groups etc. are encouraged to contact the district to schedule a presentation on the proposed construction plans.
Glazer requested that the community ‘keep sending questions and use the website’.
Approximately 25 parents and citizens heard the news that moving the 6th grade from Lincoln to the Middle school will ‘free up’ 4 classrooms. Mayor Scarpelli was also present at the Town Hall at Lincoln Wednesday Jan 17. Some faculty members and staff were also present.
Dr Glazer stated the solutions presented were designed to: ‘address overcrowding, enhance academic rigor, maintain the neighborhood culture and walking community and help stabilize home values.’ She explained that in August ’16, sections were added in the last 2 available spaces at Radcliff and Washington.
Every space in the district is now being used and sections at Lincoln, Yantacaw and Washington are now closed. No additional students can be taken. New registrants to these districts now must attend schools other than their home schools.
Comments, Suggestions, Questions LINCOLN
One citizen without children in the district shared that he purchased his home in Nutley because ‘the culture of this town is supposed to be a small town.’ His suggestion: “Stop building more apartments in this town…that’s why the schools are overcrowded. Enough is enough.”
Dr. Glazer explained that while there are students living in apartments in Nutley, the main impact on overcrowding has come from the purchase of single family homes last year by families with school aged children
Regarding potential funding, the Township’s use of licensing fees collected from cable companies was questioned. Dr Glazer said she ‘honestly did not know’ how this income was allocated and would look into it.
One parent shared, “We have run into problems in the past where contractors have come in and things didn’t work right and it’s a finger pointing game.”
Architect Joe Rubino explained that part of their contract was to make sure the contractors comply with the documents and general conditions. He stated that his firm has also suggested that the district hire a Construction Management team and that this is ‘budgeted in the overall project costs’. He explained that there will be issues continually along the way. With us looking at it and also another pair of eyes, another independent firm looking at it as well, you are covering your bases.”
When asked if all construction plans would be presented as one project, Rubino responded “Basically we are going to examine the climate when we get closer to bidding. We have to see what contractors we want. If we open it up to a lot of smaller pieces you get smaller contractors. Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes that’s bad. At a maximum we would have individual contractors at each school. If you do one overall contractor, you may get a better price, but you are dealing with one guy.”
To a question regarding projections on the Roche property purchased by Prism, Dr Glazer responded that the demographer used the information that was available in the demographer’s report that is available on the district website. LINK
Concerning student and staff safety during construction, all construction workers will be subject to background checks and will wear identification badges. A section of town will be identified for parking and workers will be shuttled to the sites. No renovation construction at Lincoln school is proposed for the bond referendum.
TAPinto Nutley will also be providing coverage of the final Town Hall meetings:
- Wed Feb 1 at 7pm - Spring Garden School Auditorium
- Wed Feb 8 at 7pm - Radcliffe School Media Center
Nutley Public Schools and the Board of Education remind parents, residents, and Nutley business owners that they can attend any of the town hall meetings, not just the ones in their neighborhood school.
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