WOOLWICH TWP. -- The halls
of Kingsway Regional were anything but quiet on Wednesday as electricians,
masons and other contractors worked to complete $3.3 million in renovations
by September. Outside, a crane lifted beams to workers assembling the
roof on what will be the district's new 104,084-square foot middle school,
scheduled for completion in May 2006.
These projects, which voters approved via a $16.9-million referendum
in 2003 and which were designed by Garrison Architects of Mount
Laurel, are on track and on budget, said Superintendent Terrence Crowley.
The existing facility on Kings Highway houses the district's approximately
2,000 high school and middle school students. The new building on an
35-acre parcel next door will soon take in the middle schoolers. Officials
said the $15.2-million facility will help compensate for a skyrocketing
enrollment generated by the sending districts.
Upgrades like a HVAC system to provide air conditioning, a larger training
area and locker rooms, and renovated science labs will make the 40-year-old
main building a better place for the high school students, Crowley said.
Contractors began work on those upgrades on June 1.
The district expected to have the renovations and middle school completed
by September. But Crowley explained that designing the middle school,
obtaining permits and awarding bids for the construction simply took
time. The district had to deal with the remediation of Dieldrin, a pesticide
left over from the land's previous use as a peach orchard. When the
DEP approved moving forward with site work in December 2004, the winter
weather made starting impossible, Crowley said.
The middle school will have an 800-student capacity when it opens for
the 2006-2007 school year, and the district expects up to 700 students
to initially pack its classrooms. If enrollment continues to increase,
the district could again be weighing expansion options, according to
The district is now ironing out the logistics of operating the new school.
That includes considering whether the district can continue to bus all
students together or if a different system is necessary. While construction
has its pitfalls, resolving such planning issues can be the hardest
part of any expansion, according to Crowley.
"The bulk of it has to be done so when kids walk in the doors,
it works," Crowley said.