RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Construction will start in June at four Rutherford Public Schools sites, with the fifth site due for work starting later this summer. Voters last September approved this comprehensive plan to improve and expand the borough’s schools.
At its Feb. 24 meeting, the Board of Education approved the first of seven anticipated bid packages. Each one describes a collection of projects, and each one will be subject to the state-mandated process for competitive bids. The first bid was for work at Lincoln School, where two classrooms will be built atop an existing addition to provide critically needed academic and co-curricular space.
“We had very strong interest in that job,” Business Administrator/Board Secretary Joseph P. Kelly said. “Fourteen contractors submitted bids, and several were below our budget projections.”
The school board must accept the lowest qualifying bid, and that was from Catcord Construction Co. of Norwood, NJ. The cost was listed as $787,910, which is lower than the initial projections made when the district prepared for a bond referendum.
“That cost savings indicates that the construction market is very competitive right now,” Kelly said. “There are no guarantees that future bids will have that same level of difference between projection and bid, but we are happy to start the process with that kind of good news.”
Savings could help balance other bids that come in higher than projections, Kelly added. No matter how the final projection-versus-reality costs play out, the district cannot use bond funding to pay for any projects other than the ones approved by voters.
That two-room addition at Lincoln is expected to be substantially complete by the end of the 2020-21 school year. The next bids are due in March and April, and Kelly said everything is on schedule now to start work just before the school year ends. The timeline calls for renovations to begin mid-June at the High School’s 1970s-era science labs. As soon as the school year ends, workers can start construction to build the second-story classrooms at Lincoln; replace moisture-damaged floors at Union School; and add an elevator and renovate restrooms at the Nurse’s Office at the Kindergarten Center. The Union flooring project should be complete sometime this fall, followed by the High School science labs.
From a scheduling perspective, the most challenging project is expected to be the overhaul of the High School’s Mortimer Wing. That heavily used instructional space, built in 1958, has inefficient and obsolete heating/cooling systems. Renovations will include new mechanical systems, a repaired exterior facade and upgraded doors. The timeline calls for that work to be done mostly during summers to minimize the impact on students, with it finishing in late 2023 as the final piece of bond-funded projects.
The Rutherford district will continue to use the website OneRutherford.com to keep historical background intact and share updated information.
School-by-School Summary, with targets for projects to be substantially complete:
Kindergarten Center – Work is planned to start after classes end in June 2020 to add a restroom to the Nurse’s Office (target: fall 2020) and to add an elevator to provide complete accessibility to the multi-level building (target: late spring 2021). Installation of a new heating/cooling system for the Multi-Purpose Room is targeted to start and finish in summer 2021.
Lincoln – After classes end in June 2020, workers will begin to build two classrooms atop the existing addition to provide critically needed academic and co-curricular space (target: end of the 2020-21 school year).
Pierrepont – Late in summer 2020, work will begin on the construction of a full-sized gym with a stage addition (target: before the 2021-22 school year starts). The current gym will be demolished in summer 2021, and construction will start on a two-story, 11-classroom wing (target: before the 2022-23 school year starts). Renovation of the Multi-Purpose Room will begin mid-summer 2021 (target: winter 2021).
Union – In the summer of 2020, workers will begin replacing moisture-damaged floors and in the fall, they’ll start restoring the school’s front columns (target: winter 2021). Before the end of the 2020 calendar year, construction will begin to build a new gym (target: late fall 2021). Work can then begin to convert the old gym into three learning labs (target: spring 2022).
High School – Even before classes end in June 2020, work can begin to renovate four substandard science labs (target: before winter 2020-21). Overhauling the Mortimer Wing will be challenging because it is heavily used. The timeline calls for that work to be done mostly during summers (target: late 2023).