SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Board of Education has unanimously awarded a contract to Garrison Architects to begin preliminary work on the March 13 referendum project to upgrade its school building.
The contract awards Garrison $10,000 for pre-referendum services, $2,500 for the New Jersey Department of Education approval services, $2,500 for referendum communications and 7.75 percent of total construction costs.
Before the contract was presented to the board Interim Superintendent Joseph Miller sent the contract to the school’s attorney for review.
Mr. Miller originally sent out seven requests for proposals for architects. The School Improvement Committee, which is overseeing the project, reduced the group of architects to three so the school board could effectively interview and choose an architect for the project.
The school board did just that at a special closed-session meeting on Sept. 6.
”Since then Garrison has been here a couple of times collecting data, floor plans, drawings, facility reports, asbestos reports, and all those types of things,” Mr. Miller said.
The district has decided a referendum is necessary to keep the 72-year-old school safe for students.
Mr. Miller has said that for the safety and welfare of the students, it is important that a referendum be passed to make significant improvements to the physical condition of the building. Mr. Miller said improvements could include, the roof, windows and heating and ventilation systems.
Referendums to improve the building failed in December 2009 and March 2010. In December 2009, the board was asking for $11 million to renovate the school, build a new gym and install solar panels on the roof. The school’s old gym would have been converted to a cafeteria and the current cafeteria would have been turned into a media center.
After the 2009 referendum failed, the board scaled the project down to $9 million and included renovating the school, building a new gym and installing solar panels on the roof.
Nothing has been decided on what will be included in the March referendum, but the board said it is trying to be as transparent as possible to inform voters about what is going on.
It recently put out a survey to the community asking for input on what should be included in the project. Results for the referendum were expected on Sept. 26 and after gathering all of them the board plans to hold a special meeting on Oct. 5 to discuss the results. The meeting will be open to the public.
”Garrison is very, very anxious to get exact input from this board as to what he should be including in this referendum project,” Mr. Miller said. “He will have basically three sources of input for that decision: number one — the recommendations from the School Improvement Committee, number two —the results of the community survey and number three — your own personal feelings on the results on this.”
The special meeting will be solely for the purpose of discussing the survey results and the board’s feelings about them.