James Deverick, of Paul Mary Electric who is a subcontractor for Mar-Bridge Construction, works on wiring inside one of new additions to the Kingsway Middle School on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013.
Students on the Kingsway Regional and East Greenwich school campuses have gotten used to walking past construction workers on their way to class. Now, more than half way through the school year, administrators are looking at projects in both districts that are on time and under budget.
Both school districts were faced with a population boom in recent years that is not expected to slow down anytime soon.
Two of the fastest-growing in the state, their existing school buildings had been deemed unable to hold the amount of students expected to fill their halls in the coming years.
In September 2011, voters in both districts approved referendums to expand the four buildings in the two districts to designs by Garrison Architects of Marlton.
East Greenwich’s $22.5 million construction project is adding classroom space and expanding the cafeterias and gymnasiums at its two schools. Of that total, $7 million will be covered by state grants. A second referendum question that would have added office space, expanded public spaces and added canopies to the buildings was denied by voters.
“Everything is on schedule and in fact probably approaching 80 to 85 percent completion,” East Greenwich’s Superintendent Joe Conroy said. “It’s been progressing as planned.”
In East Greenwich Township, students attend Jeffrey Clark and Samuel Mickle elementary schools before heading to the Kingsway Regional School District, where they join students from Swedesboro, Woolwich and South Harrison in the sixth grade. At the high school level, students from Logan Township enter the district as well.
The regional voters of the Kingsway district approved a $31.1 million construction project, of which $8.4 million will be covered by state grants.
A combined total of 41 new classrooms are being added to the district’s middle and high school buildings, as well as expansions to the cafeterias and gymnasiums.
Most of the interior work had been completed last summer before students returned to the campus and outside construction has been going on daily since September.
“We’re probably about 65 percent of the way complete,” Kingsway’s Superintendent Jim Lavender said. “Right now we have to say we are really pleased with construction. It’s had relatively little impact on the instructional day.”
Last week, when temperatures dipped below 20 degrees, construction at the middle school halted and classes at the middle school had to be canceled when one of the subcontractors removed some insulation on a conduit to a sprinkler line and the water inside froze and the pipe burst. But according to Lavender, that incident was the only issue they have had since construction began.
“We had to lose an instructional day. That was a big issue,” he said. “But everything seems to be going well and all indicators say that we will have no issues.”
Having contractors and construction workers spending all day working in relatively close proximity to young children has raised the question of safety for some. But both administrators believe those in their care are as safe as possible, as every subcontractor and worker on campus has been screened before hiring.
In East Greenwich, full background checks on the workers were required in the construction contract for the projects.
“When we went out to bid for both projects, it was part of our contract that all workers that would be in proximity of our buildings or inside would have to have a criminal background check,” Conroy said. “In retrospect, we realize it was the right thing to do. Any strangers coming into the building have to be identified and wear ID tags.”
Both projects are expected to be completed before the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.