LITTLE EGG HARBOR – Over the course of the last few months, the Pinelands Regional School District has been undergoing various construction projects, causing issues and concern among parents and students in the district. Superintendent Cheryl Stevenson recently announced that the Pinelands Regional High School will be shutting down for the 2018-2019 school year to complete construction, relocating the high school students elsewhere in the meantime.
The Pinelands Junior High School, which normally houses 7th and 8th grade students will now house 8th through 12th grade students for the upcoming school year, according to Stevenson. During this time, 7th graders will be relocated to Frog Pond Elementary School, of the Little Egg Harbor Township School District, where room will be made for them.
Stevenson said that the district is leasing 10 temporary classroom units, or trailers, to be placed on the front lawn of the JHS to accommodate for the influx of students. “We can’t fit them all in there [in the JHS],” said Stevenson.
Stevenson noted that “we [Pinelands schools] are under a shared services agreement” with Frog Pond. This means that 7th graders now attending Frog Pond for 2018-2019 will be sharing the same bussing system, at no extra cost to the district.
Back in October 2017, Jersey Shore Online reported that Pinelands schools were closed due to air quality concerns during construction. As Stevenson remarked more recently, the smells associated with the construction drew concern and complaints.
Construction on the roof of the high school created these concerns with air quality, dust, and debris, according to Stevenson. Following the closures due to air quality issues, the air was tested and deemed safe for students to return. Once students were back, it was reported that a nail fell from the ceiling onto a student while school was in session.
Students were supposed to be in school during the construction but it was found that the roof needed to be removed and also contained asbestos. “It became a problem,” she added.
After this, the high school was closed and the students were put on a split session schedule with the JHS.
At the time of these proceedings back in 2017, Pinelands’ superintendent was Maryann Banks. Stevenson was titled the executive director of curriculum and instruction prior to becoming superintendent.
The district hopes to complete all construction projects in 2019, as shown on the Pinelands Regional Construction Finish Dates documents.
Exterior renovations that have already been completed in both the HS and JHS include “Roof Replacement of Existing Single-Ply Membrane” and “Roof Masonry Rising Wall Panels Covered with Metal,” as stated on the Construction Finish Dates document.
Some of the renovations for the HS and JHS include interior changes such as renovated bathrooms, replacement doors, floors, and ceilings, new lighting, and gym and locker room upgrades, according to the document.
Exterior renovations include window repairs and replacements, new doors, and new lighting, among others. There will even be renovated building systems including HVAC construction, electrical construction, and computer upgrades.
The cost of renovations for the HS and JHS will be paid for locally and by the state. For a majority of the renovation projects, the state will take 40 percent of the cost, while the other 60 percent is funded locally.
There will also be improvements made to the Athletic Complex as part of the construction projects, including a new natural grass field, new goal posts, track resurfacing, new fences, and tennis court resurfacing, to name a few. This is estimated to cost $1,943,750, with $375,000 funded by the state (19 percent) and $1,568,750 funded locally (81 percent).
You can find more information on the Pinelands Regional School District website at pinelandsregional.org/copy-of-health-and-safety. The district has created a Construction webpage for information regarding the specific renovations, site plans, maps, and cost estimates.