By LINDSAY CAREY
The Middle School Building Committee and construction companies working on the middle school renovation projects are seeking to add generators and courtyard upgrades to the existing projects.
The Board of Education has approved the preliminary drawings and specifics for the middle school renovation projects. Now, the BOE has recommended sending representatives from Fletcher Thompson, Newfield Construction and the Southington Public Schools to a Plan Completion Test (PCT) meeting with the Office of School Facilities (OSF) on March 4 to get the additions to the project approved by the state.
“At this meeting we need approval from them so we can go out to bid for our generators and some other items,” said Director of Operations Pete Romano.
The representatives will be bringing the complete drawings and bid specifications for the generator project and courtyard upgrade project in each of the two schools to the PCT. Mark Hopper, principal and project manager from Fletcher Thompson working on the middle schools, spoke to the board about each of the projects.
“The generator project was part of the original drawings and specifications,” said Hopper.
However, Hopper said that the generators were listed as a bid alternate and wasn’t included in the final stages of the project. He explained that it was because the building committee believed that there were grants available to cover the cost of the two generators.
“At the time the generators were not included as an effort went forth by the town to see if we could secure grants,” said Hopper. “Unfortunately the grants were not able to be secured, so we want to put the generators back into the project.”
Board of Education Members Patricia Johnson and Terry Lombardi questioned if the Board would be able to afford the change to the budget.
“We are, I think, running below our amount that was approved by a bond issue,” said Hopper. “We are undertaking this procedure to be able to get the cost included in the project outside of the change order process, which is an important distinction.”
Hopper also explained that the function of these generators is for emergency use. The town would be able use these schools as centers in the event of an emergency.
The principal and project manager from Fletcher Thompson also spoke about the importance of upgrading the courtyards to not only match the new aesthetic of the school’s renovation, but also to reduce the amount of maintenance required for the courtyards at each school.
The courtyards are designed to bring natural light into the classrooms and are not used for educational purposes for a number of reasons.
“If the courtyard was not there, then we would have interior classrooms without any exterior walls with natural light,” said Hopper. “From a functional aesthetic standpoint that’s why the courtyard is there.”
Romano added that the maintenance in the courtyards has required special attention, so the plans suggest that the courtyard be turned into an area with artificial turf.
“The issues that we have now is that the area is very difficult for us to maintain. It is an area where a lot of weeds grow,” said Romano. “We cannot use any herbicides or insecticides to treat that, so we have to manually do that by hand.”
He explained that although artificial turf does usually require maintenance, for the purpose of the area it would require little to none at all. The courtyards are not used at all for educational purposes, because of their locations. There is no room for modification of the space, and it would be able to be made ADA compliant.
“There is maintenance to an artificial turf when it’s used for a sporting purpose, but in this area it’s not going to get used for that,” said Romano.
According to Romano, the Middle School construction projects are both on track and going smoothly. The furniture for both of the Media Center was delivered and installed and the current phase of construction will be completed at DePaolo in the beginning of March and at JFK at the end of March.
“We’ll be receiving more furniture and really starting to wind down with what’s going on with construction,” said Romano.