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Construction UpdateS

Construction progress continued during busy school year

The Rutherford district will continue to use the website OneRutherford.com to keep historical background intact and share updated information.

July 2021

While our attention was pulled in other directions throughout the 2020-21 school year, important construction projects continued at five sites in Rutherford. The work, approved by voters in a 2019 bond referendum, enters the second summer ahead of schedule and under budget. (See "School-by-School Summary" at the bottom of this page.)

At the Kindergarten Center, improvements are bringing the building into compliance with state regulations for the youngest students and with federal guidelines for accessibility. Restrooms were added in the nurse’s office and three classrooms, and a new elevator replaced the difficult use of a chair lift to help some navigate this multi-level building. Coming this summer: Air conditioning for the heavily used Multi-Purpose Room.

At Lincoln, project work is increasing capacity at this school that had become crowded. Some classrooms used every bit of space to accommodate student desks, leaving little room for transition and no room for group work. In 2020, workers began to build two classrooms atop the existing addition to provide critically needed academic and co-curricular space, and that project is wrapping up.

Pierrepont is gaining critical classroom space as well as large spaces for co-curricular activities, recognizing Rutherford’s growing enrollment and the goal of keeping students with special needs in their home school district. In summer 2020, work started on the addition of a full-sized gym; completion is expected in mid- to late September 2021. Meanwhile, this summer, workers will demolish the old gym and start the yearlong construction of a two-story, 11-classroom wing in its place. Renovations to the Multi-Purpose Room will add air conditioning to the place where students eat lunch and increase capacity for large-group gatherings.

Union is also gaining space so the district can continue to offer academics and co-curricular programming for every Rutherford student as enrollment grows. A new gym will be appropriately sized for a middle school, with completion expected in fall 2021. The existing gym will be converted to three hands-on learning labs. In addition, the bond-funded projects addressed several large-scale maintenance needs to protect the community's investment in school buildings.

At the High School, improvements are solving some of the safety and efficiency issues that come with older buildings. Already we have modernized four science labs that were 50 years old, and work has begun to upgrade heating and cooling systems in the 1950s-era Mortimer wing. The exterior façade renovation should be complete in 2022. Work on the interior is being scheduled around the heavy use of that wing while school is in session, but it should be complete by 2023.

School-by-School Summary, with time targets and contract details

Kindergarten Center – Work started in spring 2020 to add a restroom to the Nurse’s Office (completed: fall 2020) and to add an elevator to provide complete accessibility to the multi-level building (completed: late spring 2021). Installation of a new heating/cooling system for the Multi-Purpose Room is targeted to start and finish in summer 2021. 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.

Lincoln – In 2020, workers began to build two classrooms atop the existing addition to provide critically needed academic and co-curricular space (completed: summer 2021). Norwood-based Catcord Construction Co. Inc. submitted the low bid of $787,910, which was significantly lower than initial projections made when the district prepared for a bond referendum.

Pierrepont – Work started late in summer 2020 to build a full-sized gym with a stage addition (target completion: 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 completion: before the 2022-23 school year starts).

Renovation of Pierrepont's Multi-Purpose Room will begin mid-summer 2021 (target completion: winter 2021). Bismark Construction Corp. of Newark submitted the low bid for a total contract value of $12,498,000, which was very close to the initial cost projection.

Union School – In 2020, workers began replacing moisture-damaged floors, providing a long-term solution to the problem that led to that condition, and restoring the school’s front columns (completed: spring 2021). Construction has begun to build a new gym (target completion: late fall 2021). Work can then begin to convert the old gym into three learning labs (target completion: spring 2022). Drill Construction of West Orange submitted the low bid of $500,650 for the floor work, which was significantly lower than initial projections made when the district prepared for a bond referendum. A separate contract was awarded for work to restore the columns outside the front entrance, build a new gym, and convert the old gym into three new learning labs. That contract was awarded to H&S Construction & Mechanical of Elizabeth. That lowest bid of $7,386,900 was slightly lower than projections.

High School – Four science labs have been modernized (completed: 2021). 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.

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 completion: late 2023). The Rutherford Board of Education awarded a contract for those renovations to ALNA Construction of Secaucus. The work includes an upgrade to HVAC systems throughout the wing (currently underway) and replacement of the façade on both sides of the wing (target completion: 2022). The contract amount of $6,530,000 was significantly lower than expected.

the "One Rutherford" plan recognizeD varied interests with a united goal

Your Board of Education learned from public commentary after a 2018 vote 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 in 2019 reflected those goals, but still met very real needs.

To stay competitive as a housing market and as a school district, Rutherford needed additional space to contend with a rise in enrollment and improved facilities to meet educational standards. Voter-approved bond-funded projects are addressing:

  • 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.