Summer scramble: Schools wrapping up construction projects
Updated 6:22 am, Friday, August 28, 2015
All of the town’s 16 public schools underwent some degree of construction this summer, and some projects will not be finished for the first day of the new academic year next week.
The new gymnasium and a classroom pod at Riverfield School, which is undergoing a $16.4 million renovation/expansion, will be blocked off when students return next Thursday, and a cafeteria addition at Fairfield Ludlowe High School may not be accessible that day, according to Thomas Cullen, the school district’s director of operations.
Cullen gave an update on school construction projects to the Board of Education on Tuesday, and Superintendent of Schools David G. Title said the amount of construction work this summer — from maintenance projects to large-scale renovations and additions — has been “phenomenal.”
Thomas Quinn, chairman of the Riverfield School Building Committee, said Wednesday that school’s new gym should open Jan. 1 and that the pod, which Quinn said includes classrooms and physical and occupational therapy rooms for special education students, should open around Thanksgiving. The 11-classroom addition at Riverfield would be open Thursday, he said, adding, “There’s plenty of classrooms.”
Quinn said Riverfield’s old gym had to be demolished due to PCBs and that asbestos had been found during renovations where the pod is located. “They found a lot of asbestos there, which we have to clean up … and some of the parts of the building didn’t meet the required code,” he said.
Fairfield Ludlowe High School, undergoing an $11.6 million expansion and renovation, may not have its cafeteria addition open Thursday, Cullen said. But students would still have lunch because the regular cafeteria will be open, he said.
First day checklist:
Cullen said Wednesday that if Ludlowe’s cafeteria addition isn’t done Thursday, it should be open about five days later. He said the potential delay is tied to ensuring the addition meets all fire safety and building codes.
Title said the potential inaccessibility of the cafeteria addition wouldn’t impact the new high school schedule. “We’ll be able to open, run the schedule and serve lunch,” he said.
Another phase of the Ludlowe project — replacing windows and the remediation of PCBs found in caulking — won’t be done until 2016 because Ludlowe’s building committee doesn’t have enough money in its budget.
On Tuesday, Cullen provided a written report on all the construction activity at the town’s schools, including:
Burr Elementary: Completed projects included heating, ventilation and air conditioning repairs and painting in the school. Replacement of a dividing wall between the gymnasium and stage is expected to be completed in September, and upgrades to the school’s emergency generator are expected to be done in March.
Dwight School: Completed projects included exterior lighting repairs and the replacement of a septic system. The roof replacement project was expected to be done in September, and the installation of a synthetic surface for a pre-kindergarten playground was expected to be done in October.
Holland Hill School: Completed projects included a new school sign and repairs to the portable classroom’s wood siding and trim.
Jennings School: Completed projects included new flooring for the main office and library. The replacement of boilers, which included an emergency abatement of asbestos, was expected to be done in December.
McKinley School: Completed projects included re-striping the parking lot and replacement of the HVAC system in the Information Technology server room. A new HVAC dehumidification system was expected to be done in July 2016, and synthetic floor repairs to the playground were expected to be done in October.
Mill Hill School: Completed projects included re-striping the parking lot, painting the all-purpose room and corridors, partial replacement of a sidewalk, and a fence replacement. A handicapped-accessible ramp and walkway at a playground were expected to be done in October.
North Stratfield School: Completed projects included new paving and re-striping in parking lots and painting in the school. Repairs to classroom window metal panels were expected to be done in September.
Osborn Hill School: New windows, the new gymnasium and a flooring project were expected to be done in September.
Roger Sherman School: A new school sign was done.
In each of the 11 elementary schools, the installation of playground safety chips and mats was expected to be done in September and unspecified work to improve the schools’ security systems also took place this summer.
Fairfield Woods Middle School: Warranty roof repairs have been completed. A boiler room oil fuel tank project was expected to be done in January and upgrades to an emergency generator were expected to be done in March.
Roger Ludlowe Middle School: Completed projects included the replacement of a field retaining wall and painting in the school. The painting of exterior structural steel columns was expected to be done in June and upgrades to an emergency generator were expected to be done in March.
Tomlinson Middle School: The installation of a sump pump to prevent flooding in the cafeteria was completed. Repairs and the resurfacing of the gymnasium floor were expected to be done in June.
Fairfield Warde High School: Completed projects included re-striping the parking lot, interior painting and the replacement of an athletic field’s metal shed. Work still slated to be finished includes phase four of the roof replacement project, sound-proof panels in the lobby and senior lounge, HVAC work, upgrades to an emergency generator, a boiler replacement project, a new hot water system, rebuilding the infield on a baseball diamond and installing solar panels on roofs.