Improvements to school buildings throughout South Orange and Maplewood could begin as early as August, as part of nearly $140 million in projects for the district, interim Superintendent Thomas Ficarra said Monday.
“The project is coming very close to actually the biggest part — securing over a $100 million bond,” he said. “As soon as that’s accomplished, the project will go out to bid.”
Ficarra said that the South Orange-Maplewood School District is expecting state approval for its “SOMSD 2020: Intentional Integration and Innovation” plans by early next week. After that, the local Board of School Estimate will need to approve the tax levy on SOMA residents before the project enters the bidding process stage.
Ficarra said that the district is looking to identify critical projects that can be carried out first, possibly as early as mid-summer. (Last month, he reported the cost of certain “extra” projects under consideration: $1.2 million to replace the turf at Underhill Field, $2.1 million to replace the turf as well as the lighting; and $16.8 million to add air conditioning to all schools.)
In the past few weeks, he said, a child in the district was injured by the lack of non-safety glass.
“That can be remedied,” Ficarra said, adding that it was part of the Long-Range Facilities Plan. “We’d like to get that going over the summer, if possible.”
In December, the South Orange and Maplewood Board of School Estimate voted unanimously to approve the school district moving forward with an ambitious $140 million long range facilities and integration plan.
The plan will add classroom space to replace aging portables, accommodate increased enrollment and integrate the elementary schools, as well as health and safety repairs and renovations. The schools configuration will remain as PK/K-5/6-8/9-12.
The integration component of the school district’s plan — intended to eliminate segregation in schools — was previously postponed until 2021.