School Construction Snag Won’t Affect Opening of School
Fort Lee school district business administrator says all of the projects approved by referendum and taking place this summer remain “on track” except for air conditioning at Fort Lee High School.
Construction and repair work at the borough’s public schools approved by Fort Lee voters in January remains on track for the opening of school on Sept. 10—with just one exception.
“The high school HVAC is our first SNAFU in the projects,” said school district business administrator Cheryl Balletto at Monday’s Fort Lee Board of Education regular business meeting. “All of the coils will be put in; all of the duct work will be put it. But the rooftop unit will not be delivered until October. There is a backlog for getting that unit.”
Balletto provided the second school-by-school update of the month on the construction projects taking place over the summer after the school board in January saw its third referendum since September 2010—a scaled-back, roughly $30 million version of what was initially proposed—win voter approval.
But Balletto said Monday that “everything will be set up for [the rooftop unit] to be installed” by the time Fort Lee High School students are scheduled to return to class, and that the delay won’t affect the Sept. 10 date.
However Balletto also said that when the unit is delivered in October, the auditorium at the school will have to be shutdown until the particular project is completed, which she estimated would be the first week of November.
“That week we’re closed for three days,” she said. “That’s Election Day [on Nov. 6] and [NJEA Teacher Convention on Nov. 8 and 9]. So it will be up and running in November at the latest.”
Earlier this month, Balletto said the work being done this summer represents about half of the 16 total projects approved when the referendum passed, and that school opens a week later than usual this year to allow as much time as possible for the construction.
Also included in Balletto’s update Monday were the following:
Balletto said asbestos removal was completed over the weekend.
“The state monitored the air quality; we passed,” she said. “So the construction companies were back to work [Monday].”
She also said that because the asbestos had been removed, the HVAC project at the elementary school was progressing again.
“Today they started running all the piping throughout the building,” Balletto said Monday, adding that demolition has also begun on the new roof.
“And to build the four new classrooms where central office used to be located is on track,” Balletto said.
Masonry repairs are “also on track” for the beginning of the school year, according to Balletto.
School officials anticipate the new roof project and the boiler upgrade will be completed by the second week of August “and maybe before that,” Balletto said.
“The roof is contingent upon weather, and we’ve had rain for a few days now,” she said.
Masonry work is also looking good for Sept. 10, according to Balletto, who earlier in the month said the pillars in front of the school had already been repaired, and that workers were in the process of getting them painted and replacing bricks at the entrance to the cafeteria.
Although all of the projects planned for this summer taken together make up half of the total projects called for in the referendum, Balletto has said it will take three summers to get everything done because some of the projects not being done this year like an addition at the middle school and new science labs at the middle school and high school will be more involved and take longer to complete.
Balletto also noted Monday that the sale of bonds to pay for the work is expected soon—starting on Aug. 7 or 8, with a closing date of Aug. 16, she estimated.
“I will keep everybody updated,” Balletto said. “So anyone who may be interested in buying bonds, you’ll know the actual date to go through your broker.”