A new academic year has yet to begin, but there's already plenty of testing going on at Fairfield Woods Middle School.
The school has been undergoing a $24.2 million renovation/expansion project, which began last year, and building committee Chairman William Sapone said the construction itself is complete and the certificate of occupancy was issued in July.
"Right now, we are completing the commissioning, which involves testing of various pieces of equipment, training of maintenance staff and preparation of documentation, so we can close out the project," Sapone said.
He said there might be some work needed to correct any issues that arise during the testing, but nothing that would affect the opening of the school for the first day of classes next Thursday. Sapone said the committee will probably still be doing some "commissioning" work during September.
School district officials expect 10,313 students to attend classes in the town's 16 public schools this year and the Board of Education has a $149 million budget for 2012-13 to provide that education.
Meanwhile, across town at Sherman School, ventilation work is ahead of schedule and furniture will be moved back in time for teachers arriving in advance of classes. However, that construction project has experienced some bumps along the way.
The selectmen have been critical of the inclusion of a $3,940 mechanical "drop-down screen" in a conference room as part of the $3.95 million project. There were also issues with a sloping and bubbling floor, and a wall and windows that didn't align. The floor had to be ripped up because concrete had been applied to tiles too quickly, resulting in an improper bond that caused bubbles and a slope.
According to minutes from the Special Projects Standing Building Committee meeting on Aug. 3, alternatives are being explored to mitigate the noise "migration" between the Sherman principal's office and the conference room, exposed ceiling areas and room acoustics.
There have been other, smaller-scale renovation/repair projects at schools this summer, and Thomas Cullen, director of operations for the school district, said they are all on schedule to be completed before the start of classes.
In addition to the work at Sherman and Fairfield Woods, a new drop-off lane was constructed at Tomlinson Middle School in an effort to relieve traffic congestion, particularly in the morning.
"Also, we have nine school roofs being worked on and all are in good shape with no signs of leaks," Cullen said.
There also were underground oil tanks removed at schools; six have been completed and show no signs of contamination, Cullen said.
A window replacement project at Osborn Hill has yet to start because of PCB contamination at the school, and a decision was to be made by the end of this week about whether that school would open on time or even at all this year. If officials decide levels of the toxin at the school are likely to remain unsafe by Sept. 4, Osborn Hill students will be re-assigned to classes at either the former Holy Family and former St. Emery's schools.
At Riverfield School, a feasibility study got under way earlier this month in preparation for expansion and renovations at the Mill Plain Road elementary school. The study, expected to be completed by Oct. 15, will examine the elementary school building with regard to the education specifications and problematic issues.
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