The Verona School District has made extensive improvements to its facilities and grounds, but there is still much work to be done and little money with which to do it.
During the Tuesday, Nov. 27 meeting, Verona Director of Facilities Paul McDevitt provided an update for the Verona Board of Education on the status of buildings and grounds, including previous improvements and a laundry list of what still needs to be done.
McDevitt, Superintendent Steven Forte and members of the board of education have been working closely together to establish a list of priorities for a five-year plan.
“Priorities are established based on the criteria of health and safety for our building occupants and to provide a school environment which supports student achievement,” said McDevitt.
The top five priorities are heat and controls, doors and security, Lower Field Turf, sidewalks and blacktop while other priorities are improvements to masonry, fire alarms, ceilings and lightings along with many others, according to McDevitt.
The district has been looking to replace controls and hot water pumps since 1992 but the equipment still has not been replaced. High school boilers are 30 years old, 10 years past their prime, said McDevitt. Irregular heating also causes distractions and discomfort in classrooms, he added.
Exterior doors are an eyesore, safety concern and desperately need to be replaced, the board said.
The board has allocated $2.5 million for heating upgrades and $350,000 for door replacement.
The board is also setting aside between $1.7 million and $4 million for the football field, which has been sprouting sinkholes in recent months. According to Board President John Quattrocchi, half of the field was filled in around 1970 and may contain concrete slabs and rebar.
“The current facilities budget does not allow us to address these needs,” said McDevitt. “The township may be able to assume the costs of certain projects that can be defined as providing a 'community benefit,' but this will not solve the fiscal shortfall.”
The total budget for facilities is $2.5 million, with $350,000 going to the operating budget. More than $150,000 goes to recurring costs, which only leaves about $200,000 for repairs and improvements.
“This is not a sufficient budget for maintaining the district,” said McDevitt. “We have implemented new practices and improved and refined old ones to yield a more efficient and productive department, but our needs well exceed our budget.”
“We need to develop a plan to fund these needed projects and improvements,” he said.
Estimated costs in order of priority are as follows:Heat/Controls $2.5 million Doors/Security $350,000 Lower Field Turf $1.7-$4 million Sidewalks $100,000 Blacktop $450,000 Entry/Mason/Bricks $300,000 Fire Alarm/FNB-Forrest $100,000 Classroom ceilings/lighting $175,000 Tech/Backup generator $450,000 Kitchen Upgrades $125,000 Addition VHS Band $400,000 VHS/Brookdale bleachers $100,000
The Buildings and Grounds presentation can be viewed in its entirety in the photo section of this article.