While our attention was pulled in other directions throughout the 2020-21 school year, important construction projects continued at five sites in Rutherford. The work, approved by voters in a 2019 bond referendum, enters the second summer ahead of schedule and under budget.
All of this progress is tracked continually on the www.OneRutherford.com website that has been used before and after the vote to keep the community informed. This brief recap is a snapshot in time: July 2021. Additional details and photos are on the website.
At the Kindergarten Center, improvements are bringing the building into compliance with state regulations for the youngest students and with federal guidelines for accessibility. Restrooms were added in the nurse’s office and three classrooms, and a new elevator replaced the difficult use of a chair lift to help some navigate this multi-level building. Coming this summer: Air conditioning for the heavily used Multi-Purpose Room.
At Lincoln, project work is increasing capacity at this school that had become crowded. Some classrooms used every bit of space to accommodate student desks, leaving little room for transition and no room for group work. In 2020, workers began to build two classrooms atop the existing addition to provide critically needed academic and co-curricular space, and that project is wrapping up.
Pierrepont is gaining critical classroom space as well as large spaces for co-curricular activities, recognizing Rutherford’s growing enrollment and the goal of keeping students with special needs in their home school district. In summer 2020, work started on the addition of a full-sized gym; completion is expected before school starts in September. Meanwhile, this summer, workers will demolish the old gym and start the yearlong construction of a two-story, 11-classroom wing in its place. Renovations to the Multi-Purpose Room will add air conditioning to the place where students eat lunch and increase capacity for large-group gatherings.
Union is also gaining space so the district can continue to offer academics and co-curricular programming for every Rutherford student as enrollment grows. A new gym will be appropriately sized for a middle school, with completion expected in fall 2021. The existing gym will be converted to three hands-on learning labs. In addition, the bond-funded projects addressed several large-scale maintenance needs to protect the community’s investment in school buildings.
At the High School, improvements are solving some of the safety and efficiency issues that come with older buildings. Already we have modernized four science labs that were 50 years old, and work has begun to upgrade heating and cooling systems in the 1950s-era Mortimer wing. The exterior façade renovation should be complete in 2022. Work on the interior is being scheduled around the heavy use of that wing while school is in session, but it should be complete by 2023.