January 24, 2013 at 7:01 PM
PATERSON, NJ – During the past four years, the state has paid more than $330,000 to have fire watch officers stationed in the atrium of International High School because of problems with the new school’s smoke control system.
By next school year, the fire watch officers may no longer be needed.
That’s because a contractor hired by the New Jersey Schools Development Authority is scheduled to begin making repairs on the faulty system on Friday, officials said. The work, under a $546,000 contract with Hall Building Corporation, is projected to be done this summer, according to SDA spokeswoman, Andrea Pasquine.
The problem with the atrium’s smoke control system has stopped city officials from granting Paterson’s newest schools a regular certificate of occupancy. Instead, it has been allowed to operate since September 2008 with a temporary certificate, on the condition that fire watch officers be present.
The situation at International, which is located on Grand Street near Route 80, prompted nj.com to publish a story in 2011 naming it a “school construction fiasco.’’
After having empty classrooms at the building for several years, city education officials recently moved Garrett Morgan Academy to the International High building to make better use of the space there.
The 113,000-square-foot, four-story facility has a capacity for 528 high school students, according to the SDA. It cost more than $50 million to building and is comprised of 15 general classrooms, four science labs, four science prep rooms, two art rooms, a choral music room, an instrumental music room, technology lab, gymnasium, auxiliary gymnasium, auditorium including stage, cafeteria and cafeteria kitchen, media center, small group instruction room, home economics room, ITV room, language labs and administrative spaces.