2016 RPSD Facility Plan Report

2016 RPSD Facility Plan Reportthumbnail
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Published: August 22, 2016 @ 12:00 PM EDT

In June of this year, DiCara | Rubino Architects presented their Facility Needs Assessment Study to the Roselle Park Board Of Education (BOE). The report was commissioned by the BOE in line with, as stated during the presentation, a requirement from the New Jersey Department Of Education (NJDOE) regarding the school district’s Long-Range Facilities Plan (LRFP).

Research shows that an LRFP was submitted during the 2007-2008 school year.

The presentation on the report was mostly given by Joseph Di Cara, a principal of the firm. BOE members were given the report the night of the meeting and read along, for the first time, as they and those in attendance were given information by Mr. DiCara.

The first part of the presentation had Sam Chen from French & Parrello Associates (FPA), the company that conducted the study on the structural integrity of the light poles, discussing the survey and plan for the athletic field’s lights. A previous article touched upon that part of the presentation (link).

Something that was lacking in the presentation was the option of redistricting . . . the time has come to revisit changing from the neighborhood school model to one that will not only lessen the taxpayer burden but also best serve the needs of students in their education.

Mr. DiCara then continued with the presentation, stating, “The report is in two phases. One is the physical conditions of your buildings. And what we did is we went through each facility. We looked at your building envelope – that’s your brickwork, your doors, your windows, your roofs, the general conditions. We went inside the building, looked at the materials, mechanical systems, lighting systems, PA systems – the major component . . . [to] establish a review with your facility director also with your superintendent, [and] BA. One of our staff members went through it line by line item. It gives an overview and it identifies photographs of specific areas that have been identified of concern that need to be replaced.”

Mr. DiCara said that the architectural firm assigned a budget amount for each item by school. In terms of priority, he said, “Typically, you want to protect the envelope of the building which means you have to protect the exterior from rain and other elements getting into the building. One of your key areas are your roofing and we identified major components of re-roofing at each one of the facilities.”

He offered the estimates to address re-roofing for each school owned by the Roselle Park School District (RPSD):

Facility
Estimate
EJF/Aldene Elementary School
$400,000
Sherman Elementary School
$170,000
Robert Gordon Elementary School
$350,000
Roselle Park Middle School
$500,000
Roselle Park High School
$300,000
Roselle Park High School Field House
$15,000
TOTAL
$1,735,000

The report also identified concrete sidewalks, retaining walls, asphalt playgrounds, masonry wall conditions, exterior soffits, toilets, acoustical ceilings that need to be replaced in certain areas. He then explained the outcome of the report, “[This] is a five-year plan that is required by the State Department of Education. We enter this data into your website so that you’re in compliance with the state requirements. One of the key things that we need to do after this is done and we then discuss what elements that the district wants to do as a priority. We have listed of priorities based on our view. That may not coincide with your priorities in terms of what you want to do and that is totally up to you and we can have a dialogue about that but once you decide on what elements then we incorporate that into the long-range plan with the phasing and typically they want to see what you are going to do . . . also it’s a budgeting tool. As you can see, if you looked at everything, just hard construction costs – it’s over $15,000,000 with just facility upgrades with varying degrees of priority.”

The report, at the time of the presentation, was missing the final dialogue with the BOE and the district’s Facility Director.

The next component Mr. DiCara addressed was looking at the facilities in the district in terms of the capacity of the buildings. The architectural firm hired Whitehall Associates from Kinnelon, New Jersey to provide a demographic report that showed enrollment projections for the district. The report gave an indication as to how many students the district is going to have in the future to plan for over the next five years by school and grade level. In describing the methodology used, Mr. DiCara said, “How you’re using the facility determines the capacity that you can house students with. Your classrooms in [the] elementary schools are capacity-generated spaces. Based on the size of the classroom and how it was originally approved will determine can you put 24 kids in there, 18 kids, 10 kids, etc.”

He also detailed other spaces which were labeled pull-outs which are when a group of students get pulled out and go to art or music or the cafeteria or to gym or music or specialized science. Those spaces do not aid in the capacity of the school. He also touched upon special education spaces or small group instruction spaces which can be a pull-out or it can be self-contained.

In using EJF/Aldene Elementary School as an example, Mr. DiCara stated that – with a projected enrollment in the 2020-21 school year – four classrooms would be needed if the Early Childhood Center (ECC) were moved to that location, If not, one additional classroom would be needed.

“One classroom isn’t huge but it means if you don’t include that one classroom, you have a higher student per classroom ratio than is desired by the district and you also would have to have that approved by the State Department Of Education because you [would] exceed the recommended class size policy,” said Mr. DiCara, “We don’t editorialize or make judgment – we just state that you have more students than you have classrooms.”

The development is included in the 2020-21 projected enrollment. It’s an additional 77 students . . . from three developments.” – Joseph DiCara

Sherman School would need one additional classroom while Robert Gordon, based on the capacity and the space, would actually have one classroom in surplus. The Roselle Park Middle School (RPMS) would need an additional five classroom by 2020. He explained, “You have a home room. You get up. You move and you go to science, math . . . Not every classroom in every period is divisible by 24. You don’t have 24 kids in every class in every period and everything else so the state requires or recommends that you have what’s called a utilization factor and typically for middle schoolers we use 90%. So the 90% utilization, then you would require five additional spaces on that facility . . . Once you get into the programming, the educational components, you may want to have additional spaces for special programs that may only have eight students in it. And we did the same thing for the high school which [needs] one classroom.”

Mr. DiCara said that the ECC was looked at to be moved to Aldene but it has been stated since then that the district is looking at moving the ECC to the Community Preschool located at the corner of Grant Avenue and Chestnut Street.

That’s not true . . . I’m on the planning board [and] I have no idea what Somerset is.” – Loren Harms

As the presentation drew to a close, BOE member Troy Gerten asked, “You based that on enrollment projections. What were those enrollment projections? How were they computed?”

Mr. DiCara responded, “Now it’s a science but it’s not an exact science. They’ve been pretty successful in terms of their accuracy. And what it also does, it looks back in the history, you know there’s inward and outward migration in districts. Some communities have more inward migration than out and the aging of the population and new kids come in. They factor that in and they look at the history and then they project that in the future and try to accommodate the best they can with future development that is planned for the community.”

So without this development, what are we looking at as far as classrooms?”, Mr. Gerten asked.

Those in attendance that night were notified that the projected numbers with the developments would be an increase of 77 students over five years.

Mr. Di Cara clarified, “The development is included in the 2020-21 projected enrollment. It’s an additional 77 students . . . from three developments. Meridia Roselle Park Building A, Meridia Roselle Park Building B, and Somerset Development Option 1. They’re the three projects that have been approved by the Planning Board.”

Mr. Harms, who is also the Chair of the Municipal Land Use Board, stated, “That’s not true . . . I’m on the planning board [and] I have no idea what Somerset is.”

Mr. Harms continued by stating the estimates he received for Meridia were for six students and that the 77 number were projections given by the borough’s zoning officer. Somerset Development was a developer interested in the site of the Romerovski property but by the time of the presentation had backed out, according to sources.

“Who’s projecting it?”, asked Mr. Di Cara, “The developer?”

It was not clear if the estimates from Meridia were for five years or one year.

The firm proceeded with the presentation, “We were also tasked to look at what would happen if we consolidated elementary schools. We looked at taking Robert Gordon, which had the smallest population, and spreading it out over between Aldene and Sherman Elementary schools you can see the impact of Aldene if you were to do that . . . You can see what that does to the site. You pretty much lose all the ball field. The paved area would remain but the grass play area would just wrap around the building.”

The architectural firm offered the option of taking students from Robert Gordon and spreading them between Sherman and Aldene. In that scenario, Aldene would need a three-story addition and it would lose the ball field and almost all of the play area. Sherman would significantly cut into the paved play area.

Another option looked into was to consolidate the three elementary school into one (1) pre-k through fifth grade school, the firm chose Robert Gordon because it had the biggest footprint but it would lose the soccer field. The other two buildings could then be sold to developers.

Another possibility had the district sell of the BOE office building on Chestnut Street and incorporate it to the high school, then take some of the proceeds to build an addition at the high school which would impact the playground area.

These additions would come out to $18 million with the following breakdown provided:

  • $6.8 million for a one-story addition at Aldene School
  • $600,000 for a one (1) classroom addition at Sherman School
  • $8.6 million for the middle school
  • $2.0 million for the high school if it included the BOE office

These figures are different in the actual report, which have a total of $14.5 million.

Facility
Estimate
EJF/Aldene Elementary School
$4,928,500
Robert Gordon Elementary School
$2,000,000
Roselle Park Middle School
$6,370,000
Roselle Park High School
$300,000
Roselle Park High School Field House
$852,000
TOTAL
$14,450,500

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Adding an elevator at Robert Gordon was also explored but it would be cost prohibitive. Mr. Di Cara remarked, “Right now, unless there’s a unreasonable accommodation that’s needed, you’re meeting the ADA requirements with reasonable accommodations. You can place a student or faculty in on the facilities to accommodate that.”

The architectural firm concluded their presentation by stating that the report did not include all of the educational components and that such dialogue has to happen to see all the other spaces that the district wants educationally to include in there for the five-year plan.

The last page of the report had a total construction estimated cost of $11,119.500. This amount was only for what was termed ‘exposed architectural items’ only. It did not include mechanical, electrical, plumbing, security, access control, or any hidden items or conditions that may exist within walls or above ceilings.

Facility
Estimate
EJF/Aldene Elementary School
$1,231,200
Robert Gordon Elementary School
$1,029,840
Sherman Elementary School
$1,301,700
Roselle Park Middle School
$1,748,410
Roselle Park High School
$5,675,300
Roselle Park High School Field House
$208,500
TOTAL
$11,119,850

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Something that was lacking in the presentation was the option of redistricting schools to have one building house students from pre-k to first grade, another for 2nd to 3rd grade, and the last to house 4th to 5th grades. In review of the population of schools as presented by the firm, the BOE should review such an option to optimize the use of building without incurring additional cost in construction. Redistricting was proposed a little over 10 years ago and at that time was met with resounding disapproval. Now, as times have changed and the student population has begun to include a growing number of special education classes, the time has come to revisit changing from the neighborhood school model to one that will not only lessen the taxpayer burden but also best serve the needs of students in their education.

The next BOE meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 23rd, at 7 p.m. at the Roselle Park Middle School, located at 57 West Grant Avenue.

A copy of the report is included below for review or download:

2016 RPSD Facility & Analysis Options Study

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2016 RPSD Facility Needs Assessment Study

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2016 RPSD Facility & Analysis Options Study (School Summary Description)

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2016 RPSD Facility & Analysis Options Study (New Additions Estimate)

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2016 RPSD Facility & Analysis Options Study (Total Construction Cost)

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