SOMERS, N.Y. - It has been a busy—but productive—summer on the campuses of Somers schools, with numerous building upgrades and improvements under way throughout the district.
Crews are completing projects in all school buildings, including new solar panels at the middle and high schools. Installation of the panels by SolarCity began in mid-August and will take three to four weeks to complete, said Assistant Superintendent Ken Crowley. Once installed, the crews will move over to the high school and install solar panels there.
Robert Klick, supervisor of buildings and grounds, said it’s important for Somers to be a “trailblazer” and show the students that it’s possible to use alternative energy sources.
“It’s also an educational tool,” Klick said of the solar panels.
Another “big-ticket item,” as Crowley put it, is the installation of new cabling at the school buildings. The cables are intended to bolster Wi-Fi capability, Crowley said. The cabling is being done as part of New York State’s Smart Schools Bond. The bond was passed by voters statewide in November 2014 and provides public schools with about $2 billion in total funding to help with technological upgrades in infrastructure, new computers and security improvements. Somers submitted a plan and “received” about $700,000. But Crowley said the district won’t be seeing that money any time soon.
“There’s no mechanism yet for reimbursement of funds. We’re expending the funds on this project,” Crowley said. “We’re out a certain amount of dollars cash-flow wise on this thing, waiting for [the state] to get the reimbursement process set up.”
Crowley said he expects that project to be completed by Sept. 1, when schools open.
The district also put in new carpeting in the middle school library. This is the first time the library, converted from a gymnasium in 1998, has had its carpet replaced. The large undertaking was completed by packing all the library’s books into 1,200 boxes and removing them.
Carpeting is also being replaced in the “great rooms” at Somers Intermediate School. Great rooms are community spaces that are connected to classrooms. The carpeting, which Crowley said was “in great shape,” is original to the building, which was built more than 40 years ago.
Klick, however, said it was time to “modernize” the rooms.
“You want that warm and fuzzy feeling,” Klick said.
Also at Somers Intermediate School, the cafeteria serving line is being replaced. Crowley said the old serving line, also original to the school, was not equipped to handle new food requirements in schools. The new serving line is scheduled to be delivered this Saturday, which Crowley said is “cutting it close.” He said the new line should only take two days to install and should be ready when school opens.
Additionally, a new chlorination system to treat the intermediate school’s water supply has been installed. The district previously had ultraviolet (UV) systems to treat the water.
“Probably 10-12 years ago [the county health department] told us to get rid of the chlorination and go to the UV system,” Crowley said. “Now, they’re reversing that.”
Crowley said the district had hoped to begin work on new security vestibules at Primrose Elementary School and the middle school. However, bids for the project came in higher than budgeted. Crowley said he will discuss the issue with the Board of Education at its next meeting in September.
On top of all those projects, Klick said, the district also annually refurbishes several classrooms, waxes the gym floors and much more.
“In six short weeks, a lot happens every year,” he said.