EDGEWATER – After analyzing 2010 census data and consulting with professionals, the Board of Education has decided to construct a third floor of the new George Washington School now rather than wait a year as originally planned.
“The current weak economic environment enabled project bids to come in well under estimates,” said Lorraine Cella, superintendent/principal of the school district. “This made it possible for the BOE to stay within their original referendum budget and still begin the third floor now at no additional cost to the taxpayer.
With the school district growing exponentially, borrowing and construction costs historically low, and funding currently available, Cella said the evident and prudent decision was to act now. The school board unanimously approved the move on May 26.
School Board President Thomas Quinton said the additional space was necessary and agreed the timing was right.
“It makes sense both from a construction and financial perspective to complete the third floor now, rather than in two or three years,” said Quinton. “Waiting means a major disruption to the educational process and would be more costly.”
In addition to saving taxpayers on the construction, Cella said students and teachers will also always benefit when class size is held to the low 20s, allowing for more individualized instruction, flexible grouping of students based on learning styles and abilities, and time to conference with students.
“The third floor will allow for smaller classes around 22,” Cella said. “Pre-k classrooms will stay at 18.”
The additional floor will house seven large classrooms, four small group instruction classrooms and an interactive learning space with flexible dividers allowing for two or three additional large classrooms.
As for the current status of the construction site, the concrete foundation is being poured.
The Eleanor Van Gelder School will remain as is because it was not designed to withhold an additional floor.
Whitehall Associates, the demographers contracted by the school board in March 2011, projected that by 2015, the district will have 826 students from kindergarten to grade six. Currently the district has 628 students.
“When we again add pre-school classes, we could see an additional 100 students,” Cella added. “This would bring our projected 2015 total to over 925.”
In preparation for the increase in enrollment, the board held a referendum in 2010 to build GWS.
The original plans for the new school included the option of constructing a third floor in the future.
The schematic for the third floor were approved by the state Department of Education on May 5. The projected completion date is September 2012.
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