BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Improvements to Bloomfield school buildings are underway this summer with some changes providing significant environmental benefits. Most work will be finished by September or during the upcoming school year; other projects are more extensive and will take longer.
Some projects are being funded by the district’s budget and capital reserve, while others are being driven by available funding from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, a program to fund projects related to addressing the impact of COVID-19 on schools.
“Besides taxes and our usual budget, we received millions from the government,” Bloomfield Board of Education Vice President Shane Berger said. “We want to assure the public the money went to two primary destinations: first, to remediate learning loss and, second, to improve facilities. The BOE trusts the administration to prioritize projects, and the summertime is a good time to go through every nook and cranny for the clean glove test. We thank our custodial staff for their effort.”
A part of ESSER funding is restricted to improving the air quality of school buildings. As a consequence, most district schools will have their heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems addressed. This is underway at Bloomfield Middle School, whose summer school classes were relocated to Bloomfield High School. According to Superintendent Sal Goncalves, it is hoped that the BMS project will be completed by October 2023. The school will also have its windows replaced.
Goncalves, in a July 27 interview together with business administrator Vicky Guo, called this work the first round of the district’s HVAC improvements. The second round is expected to start next summer and will eventually provide Carteret, the Early Childhood Center at Forest Glen, Watsessing, Berkeley and Brookdale schools, in that order, with HVAC improvements and new windows. Goncalves said school priority was determined by the recommendations of an architect.
“The good part is we got the funding,” the superintendent said. “The downside is the supply chain and the cost of material.”
ESSER funding for these HVAC improvements comes with a key provision. The district will receive $8.8 million, of which $7.1 million is for HVAC upgrades and window replacements. The balance of $1.7 million, or 20 percent, must address remedial instruction due to lost school time because of the pandemic.
In addition to the big HVAC project, BMS will have a new first-floor staff bathroom, and the stage walls in the auditorium will be painted.
Though Carteret, according to Goncalves and Guo, is expected to see the upgrade of its HVAC system begin next summer, this summer, three classrooms will be receiving new vinyl floors.
Forest Glen will have its playground area expanded this summer.
“We have property there which we own,” Guo said. “That will be blacktopped for outdoor learning.”
Watsessing will be getting a new vinyl floor in its nurse’s suite, and new carpet tiles in the main office and principal’s office. This work will be done during the school year. Guo said the scheduling was because of supply chain issues and general workload assignments. Goncalves said the school is receiving an emergency upgrade to an HVAC connection.
“We discovered piping from a boiler to the multipurpose room, which is part of the heating system, that was beyond repair,” he said.
At Berkeley, the playground fence and backstop were replaced. In the gym, a new basketball backboard was installed and the proscenium arch was painted.
“Over the past couple of years, they’ve gotten a new boiler, a new roof, exterior doors and asphalt work done,” Goncalves said.
At Brookdale, the first-floor hallway floor will be replaced. There were repairs to the front steps during the year.
“There will be some movement of classes,” Goncalves said, anticipating disruptions when the floor is replaced.
At Demarest, selected window shades will be replaced, and the telephone and paging system will be upgraded.
“Demarest is in pretty good shape,” Guo said. “We did a lot of exterior work this past year.”
At Fairview, the side walls of the multipurpose room will be replaced. The main office and lobby will be painted, and a renovation to the staff bathroom may go over into next year.
Franklin will get new floors in the nurse’s suite and teachers’ lounge bathroom. The hallway ceiling tiles on the second floor will be replaced, and new carpet tiles will be installed at the entrance stairwell landing.
At Oak View, there will be new flooring in the principal’s, nurse’s and main offices. There will be new sinks and cabinets in two kindergarten classrooms.
At Bloomfield High School, new flooring leading to the cafeteria will be installed during the school year, and Foley Field is scheduled to get new turf next summer.