HOPEWELL: Architect provides update for school projects funded through $35.8M referendum

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Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
The sounds of hammers, saws and nail guns are filling the air in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District as workers tackle the additions, renovations and rehabilitation projects funded by a $35.8 million bond referendum.
Voters approved the bond referendum in September 2016 to pay for an assortment of projects, ranging from upgrades to the media centers, playgrounds and restrooms, and new roofs, windows and doors.
Last week, architect George Duthie offered an update on the projects’ progress to the Board of Education, starting with upgrades to the school district’s communications system. The cabling for the district-wide clocks, public address and messaging system is expected to be completed by the end of August, Duthie said.
At the Toll Gate Elementary School, the existing HVAC (heating and air conditioning) mechanical units in the gym have been removed. Workmen are waiting for the new equipment to arrive, Duthie said.
Moving over to Hopewell Valley Central High School, work on the roof replacement project is going well, he said. It has been under way for several weeks and good progress is being made “even with the rain,” he added.
“It is moving along. It is going very, very well,” Duthie said, noting that the high school re-roofing project should be finished within the next couple of weeks. The roofers will move on to the Hopewell Elementary School for a roof replacement project.
Duthie also told the school board that preliminary steps have been taken on the other Central High School projects. Several meetings have been held with the contractor to discuss scheduling and coordination.
The on-site work has been completed – marking out the location of utilities, bringing in an office trailer and storage trailers, and some of the preliminary survey work, he said.
Among the renovations at Central High School is a new entrance at the front of the school. The current entrance is not handicapped accessible, for example, which impedes some visitors’ access.
The new entrance includes a secure entrance lobby and a multipurpose room that can be used as a public meeting space.
It also includes new offices for the principal, vice principals, the attendance officer and the school nurse, plus conference rooms.
The high school kitchen and cafeteria will be undergoing an expansion. The project includes more seating for students, a food court and an expanded food preparation area.
A new arts and wellness space is being added to the high school.
The arts space provides for a “black box” theater, which is a dedicated space for the theater arts program. It can be used for rehearsals, recitals, public speaking and debate.
The wellness space features a 6,000-square-foot gym so there is space to increase the physical education program offerings. The high school enrolls about 1,200 students in grades 9-12.
Also at the high school, the current lighting fixtures will be replaced with highly efficient fluorescent or LED lights in the classrooms, hallways and the exterior of the building. It is expected to reduce energy and maintenance costs.