Kingsway Schools in construction frenzy
June 30, 2005
By Martin C. Bricketto

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 Crowley.

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.

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