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School board moves forward with improvements

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By Matthew Sockol
Staff Writer

FREEHOLD – The Freehold Borough K-8 School District Board of Education has authorized payment to its architect for the schematic design of four projects that will eventually accommodate the district’s growing enrollment.

The projects are as follows: additions to the Freehold Learning Center elementary school; renovations and capital projects at the Freehold Learning Center; additions to the Park Avenue Elementary School and the Freehold Intermediate School; and renovations and capital projects at the Park Avenue Elementary School and the Freehold Intermediate School.

The total payment to the firm of Fraytak, Veisz, Hopkins and Duthie Architects will be $375,120, according to an item on the board’s Nov. 14 meeting agenda. Reimbursement of the money is expected from the New Jersey School Development Authority.

The withdrawal from capital reserve for payment to the architect follows action taken at a meeting on Oct. 24 when the board authorized the projects for the district’s facilities to be resubmitted to the state Department of Education Office of School Facilities.

The construction projects were twice rejected by voters in referendums in 2014. The work was subsequently authorized by then-New Jersey Commissioner of Education David C. Hespe in August.

The projects at the Freehold Learning Center on Dutch Lane Road and at the Park Avenue Elementary School and the Freehold Intermediate School, both on Park Avenue, are intended to accommodate the district’s growing enrollment.

Unlike neighboring school districts that have seen their enrollment decline or remain steady during the past several years, Freehold Borough has experienced enrollment growth.

Freehold Borough rents classrooms in the Freehold Township K-8 School District on an annual basis to accommodate children who cannot be educated in Freehold Borough’s two elementary schools due to a lack of space.

Teachers employed by Freehold Borough instruct the Freehold Borough pupils in the rented classrooms in Freehold Township.

According to a press release from the district, Freehold Borough ended the 2015-16 school year with 572 more students than it had space to adequately house.

A total of about $33 million has been dedicated to the facilities projects, with state funding expected to cover about 85 percent of the costs.

In other business on Nov. 14, the board approved a $57,100 contract with communications firm Eastern DataComm for the installation and enhancement of the emergency notification systems at the Park Avenue Complex and at the Freehold Learning Center.

The systems notify students, staff members, visitors and any other occupants of Freehold Borough’s school facilities that an emergency is occurring in the building, according to district administrators.

And, the board approved a $12,000 contract with the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey to perform a review of the district’s technology resources. The commission will deliver a written report to the board and the superintendent of schools after the review is performed.

According to the board’s agenda, the commission will assess technology plans, vendors, documentation, hardware, software, network security, backups, technical staff resources, policies and the district’s technology infrastructure against the industry’s best practices and standards.

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