Westfield School Auditorium Renovations, Solar Panel Installation & Water Testing Near Completion

Solar panels installed at Tamaques School could begin generating electricity in the next few weeks. Credits: Westfield Board of Education

WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield Board of Education member Dana Sullivan itemized a long list of school improvements at Tuesday’s board of education meeting. School begins on Sept. 6.

“As usual, our maintenance staff and custodial staff did a wonderful job of getting those buildings ready,” she said.

The list included large-scale initiatives like auditorium renovations at both Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools as well as smaller but essential maintenance items including painting, boiler replacements and flooring updates.

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The auditorium renovations at Roosevelt and Edison Intermediate schools are nearing completion. According to Sullivan, the progress is on track and still pacing for a November or December completion date.

“They are actually looking very good already,” she said.

Another district-wide initiative was the installation of solar panels. Installation is complete, she said. 

“All of the equipment is up and running. We are just waiting on the last minute approvals,” said Sullivan. “PSE&G is running the meters and testing the meters so within the next two to three weeks we should have all of our solar panels generating electricity and saving us money, hopefully.”

The schools have undergone water testing on all water units that supply water for consumption. Water testing is required every six years by the state of New Jersey.

“It was a long process because we did have to develop a plan for each school, basically a floor plan, that showed every single water outlet in the building and which outlets were used for either drinking water or cooking or anything that would be consumed by an individual,” said Sullivan. “We tested hundreds and hundreds of units.”

Of the units tested, a combined six units from the high school and Washington School came back with above acceptable levels of lead on the first test. However, once the units were allowed to run for three to five minutes, all came back below acceptable levels, she said. All six units were taken out of service and either removed from the buildings or updated with new units and filtration systems. The district is currently awaiting results on the testing of the new units which will remain closed until final results are approved.

“We are in good shape and the buildings all look great,” said Sullivan at the closing of her progress update.

Sullivan pointed out that auditorium renovations, chairlift installations, fire alarm updates, boiler replacements and gym floor updates all came out of the referendum. All of the other projects came out of the maintenance or capital reserves. The solar panels are owned and paid for by the solar company that installed them.

“I think it’s important for the public to know that a lot of these things that are funded out of maintenance reserve and capital reserve are because of good management of Dana and the administration and Dr. Dolan,” Board Member Mark Friedman said. “Years ago these were not the kinds of thing we could do out of the maintenance reserves and capital reserves. Historically, these would have all been things that we would have had to go to the public to bond for.”

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