WE ARE ONE RUTHERFORD
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).
The Rutherford district will continue to use the website OneRutherford.com to keep historical background intact and share updated information.
Construction is underway at four Rutherford school buildings after getting an early start because schools did not reopen for the 2019-2020 school year.
4 of 7 bid packages are under contract
The Board of Education awarded additional contracts for work related to the bond proposal approved by voters in September 2019. That action keeps the district on schedule for significant work to begin this June.
In February, the Board approved a contract for work at Lincoln. In March and April, it opened the competitive bids and awarded contracts for work at the Kindergarten Center, Union, and the High School. Three more bid packages will complete the district’s comprehensive plan to improve and expand the borough’s schools.
Each bid package describes a collection of projects, and each one will be subject to the state-mandated process for competitive bids. The Lincoln work will build two classrooms atop an existing addition to provide critically needed academic and co-curricular space. The low bid of $787,910 was significantly lower than initial projections made when the district prepared for a bond referendum.
More recent contract approvals are for:
Kindergarten Center – Adding a restroom to the Nurse’s Office, adding an elevator to provide complete accessibility to the multi-level building, and installing a new heating/cooling system for the Multi-Purpose Room. Brahma Construction of Wayne submitted the low bid of $1,939,412, which was slightly higher than initial projections made when the district prepared for a bond referendum.
Union School – Replacing moisture-damaged floors and providing a long-term solution to the problem. Drill Construction of West Orange submitted the low bid of $500,650, which was significantly lower than initial projections made when the district prepared for a bond referendum.
High School – Renovating outdated science labs. Practical, LLC in Ridgewood submitted the low bid of $1,260,000, which was lower than initial projections made when the district prepared for a bond referendum.
Bids that have come in under budget indicate that the construction market is very competitive right now. There are no guarantees that future bids will have that same level of difference between projection and bid, but the first 4 bid packages (of 7 to be awarded) have totaled about $1 million under budget. That net total includes the bid for the Kindergarten Center – the only one for which the lowest bid was higher than the initial budget.
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.
It is tempting to consider starting construction while schools are not currently being used for instruction because of COVID-19 shutdowns. But the time and cost needed to mobilize any of these projects is expensive. If the district started projects while schools were closed, it might have to de-mobilize if schools reopen and then re-mobilize once school closes for the summer. The district would be responsible for those costs, which were not included in the budget. If there is a decision to keep schools closed for the remainder of the school year, Rutherford’s leaders will look into starting construction as soon as possible.
In June, the Board of Education will advertise for bids for two sizeable packages of work that were part of the bond proposal. The High School’s 1950s-era Mortimer Wing is due for an overhaul including a new exterior facade and new doors. The repair-and-renovation work will also include mechanical upgrades to replace heating and cooling systems that are inefficient and obsolete. A second bid package will be sought for work at Pierrepont, where the current gym will be replaced and a two-story, 11-classroom wing will be built. A new gym with a stage addition will be built, sized correctly for an upper-elementary school and available for community use. The multipurpose room will be renovated to create a new cafeteria with air conditioning, increased capacity and ADA compliance to meet every student’s needs.
The last of seven bid packages will finish work planned for Union, including the repair of exterior columns, renovation of science labs, and addition of a correctly sized gym. The Board’s timeline suggests October 2020 for bids to be received and a contract to be awarded.
Your Board of Education learned from public commentary that the community wants to keep the High School pool intact, and wants a more affordable way to maintain the excellence of Rutherford schools. A new plan reflects those goals, but still seeks to meet very real needs.
To stay competitive as a housing market and as a school district, Rutherford needs additional space to contend with a rise in enrollment and improved facilities to meet educational standards. Voter-approved bond-funded projects will address
- the space needs caused by higher enrollment;
- improvements necessary to meet state and national standards; and
- critical maintenance/repairs to aging buildings.
The One Rutherford plan also capitalizes on state aid to cover about $9 million of project costs. (That aid is not available for costs paid for from the annual operating budget.)
That’s the nutshell version, but this site offers more project details including a school-by-school breakdown showing what improvements will be made.