Workers at Soehl Middle School putting the finishing touches on a security vestibule, an upgrade that was added at schools all around the district. Other work included new roofs, new boilers and upgraded electric systems.
By Gary Miller
Supervisor of Maintenance Lawrence Miranda gave the Board of Education a full rundown Thursday, Sept. 20, of the myriad of upgrades and fixes done over the summer at schools around the district.
Projects included security upgrades at all schools, new roofs, new boilers, brick work, upgraded electrical systems, and a refinished gym floor at every school.
The projects were paid for through a Capital Reserve Fund, meaning that the district did not need to raise taxes or incur debt through a bond referendum, said Business Administrator Kathleen A. Gaylord.
The fund has been in place since 2000 for the sole purpose of improving facilities.
“The district has had no debt during the 19 years of my tenure,” Gaylord said. “Every June any unspent monies are transferred into the Capital Reserve Fund. Those dollars are then appropriated in subsequent budgets, rather than taxing the homeowners of Linden for the many major and minor renovations the district performs annually. This year alone, $4 million was allocated for these projects.”
Superintendent Danny A. Robertozzi said the upgrades are crucial to keeping the school district running smoothly.
“These projects were many and varied to make sure that our schools are safe, welcoming and functional for our students throughout the year,” he said. “A lot of thought goes into prioritizing these projects to make sure the most vital issues are dealt with first. But we also use a lot of creativity to make sure we’re not just keeping up with repairs, but advancing our facilities to meet the changing needs of our students and staff.”
Security vestibules were installed at main entrances of all the schools, meaning that visitors will need to be buzzed in twice to enter the building. Linden High School already had such a vestibule. Several schools already had double doors, so they just needed the electronics, card readers and intercoms installed.
But some schools, including McManus and Soehl middle schools, needed new walls built and doors installed.
Miranda’s presentation included a slideshow with before-and-after photos of the many of the projects. He explained that some of the projects took longer than expected because of the heavy amounts of rain this summer.
Here is a breakdown by school:
Linden High School
The student cafeteria, serving area and kitchen underwent a major renovation. All ceilings, walls and floors were replaced, the electric system was upgraded, plumbing was rerouted, new LED lighting and air conditioning was installed. All new equipment was installed in the serving area, and all piping was installed under the floor so there is no more overhead piping.
Major upgrades were made to the surveillance system, replacing the hard drives and over 100 cameras throughout the interior and exterior.
The media center is undergoing a major renovation to create a student center, which is ongoing.
The roof was replaced over the boys locker room.
Eight basketball baskets and backboards were upgraded in the gymnasium, replacing old manual-lift backboards with automatic backboards and new padding.
Academy of Science and Technology
The roof around the dome was replaced, including replacement of metal decking, which was found to be deteriorating.
McManus Middle School
A handicap-accessible ramp is being added to the gym entrance, as well as a new parking area for handicap parking.
Soehl Middle School
A portion of a second-floor roof was replaced. The repairs were adjacent to the school’s auditorium, which delayed a planned renovation of the auditorium. “It wouldn’t make sense to do interior renovations when we still had a leaky roof,” Miranda explained. The auditorium renovation will go forward next summer.
Exterior masonry was restored to repair cracked brickwork. Mortar around the bricks was cut out and replaced, known as repointing, to prevent water from getting in.
The installation of the security vestibule was challenging because of the nature of the main entrance, with doors on both the Henry Street and Elm Street sides of the building. Workers installed new walls and doors on the outside of both entrances, matching the look of the exterior of the building. “It looks like it was there the whole time,” Miranda said. “It really came out well.”
The school’s boiler was replaced.
School No. 1
New roofing was installed on the north side and south side of the main part of the building, and the gutters were relined.
The gym floor is being replaced because of water infiltration and some termite damage under the floor.
School No. 2
The roof was replaced on the front building on South Wood Avenue.
A failing boiler that provided heat to Buildings A and B was replaced with two new boilers. The boiler for Building C was also replaced.
School No. 4
A sidewalk that was rising up and blocking a door because of tree roots was removed along with the roots, and replaced.
School No. 6
Exterior masonry was restored to repair cracked brickwork. Mortar around the bricks was cut out and replaced, known as repointing, to prevent water from getting in. Deteriorating steel supports around the windows were replaced.
An exterior tool shed is being replaced.
An old fence in the playground area was replaced.
School No. 9
The electrical service to the school was upgraded. The room containing the main distribution center for the electrical power was expanded outward to make room for new gear to bring the school up to code for the increased power. Miranda said he hopes the new electrical service will be turned on during days off in November or December, because the power will need to be turned off for a day or two during the switchover.
The school’s original lockers were replaced with new, wider, orange and black lockers.
School No. 10
Similarly to School No. 9, the electrical service to the school was upgraded. The final switchover should happen in November or December.
Academy of Excellence
The third floor of the former St. Elizabeth School was converted to offices for special education Child Study Teams formerly housed at School No. 1, School No. 9 and McManus Middle School, creating more space at those schools.