Construction Begins on Bond Projects
The Board of Education in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District approved bids this summer to upgrade security in the district’s three school buildings and to renovate and expand the fine and performing arts wing in the high school, setting construction plans in motion for the projects that were voter-approved through a 2015 bond issue referendum.
A total of $826,000 was approved in the bond issue for the security vestibules. The bid, presented at the July 11 Board meeting by BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers, of Patchogue, was within the budgetary allocation.
Oyster Bay High School is being used as a model school for a new visitor management system, which will become part of the security vestibules when they are constructed. The safety vestibules will be equipped with cameras, a visitor management system, card readers and strategic door openings that will be installed in ways that maintain the character and welcoming environment of the district’s schools. Custom fabricated parts and other materials needed for the security vestibules were ordered and construction will begin during a school break to ensure that learning is not disrupted. Security protocols that are already in place will not change. They will simply become automated, allowing for a more efficient and secure system. Visitors will be asked to provide identification, which will be scanned and returned to them before being granted access to areas where children are learning. However, once a visitor’s identification is scanned, it will become part of a data base so visitors can re-enter the building with greater ease. Once the visitor management system at the high school is running smoothly, systems will be installed at Vernon and Roosevelt elementary schools.
For construction of the fine and performing arts wing, chain-link fencing has been installed around the high school, beginning to the right of the gym entrance and continuing around the fine and performing arts wing. The music area has been separated by a sheetrock wall, making it totally isolated from the rest of the building. With safety and security as the top priority, a construction manager is on site to ensure that the project runs smoothly and safely. A trailer will be set up and contractors will be assigned parking on a grassy area on East Main Street, which is being monitored by security. This will in no way interfere with student and staff parking or bus transportation.
The construction consists of redesigning and expanding the space, renovating three classrooms, including a digital art room; regaining one instructional classroom in the main building by constructing a new 3-dimensional sculpture and design room; relocating all of the art classes to one section of the high school, combining and enlarging the band and art space, including storage; increasing small-group instruction and installing a state-of-the-art sound recording system in the music area.
During its August 1 meeting, the Board discussed at length the bid for Proposition #1 of the 2015 bond issue, which consisted of the high school fine and performing arts wing expansion and the installation of air conditioning in the high school auditorium. Voters approved $6,990,791 for the scope of work, under the recommendation of BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers based on the economy and construction costs at that time.
When the bids were presented, however, they were found to be over the budget allotment that was approved by voters two years ago. BBS, in their recent presentation, pointed to an unforeseen boom in construction due to a turnaround in the economy, causing prices to spike. However, they also brought to light that the district has the additional funds to complete the air conditioning at no additional cost to taxpayers because of fund surpluses from other capital projects in the district. Moving those funds to pay for the air conditioning must be approved by taxpayers by putting a proposition up for a vote.
BBS recommended that the district approve the bid for the fine and performing arts wing expansion as to not delay construction any further and secure the surplus funds through voter approval to pay for the air conditioning at a later date. After consulting with the district’s attorneys, the Board voted to approve an addendum to award the bid for the fine and performing arts wing expansion, citing that as an educational institution, the priority is to meet the growing needs of the students first.
Residents will be notified of the vote by mail. Information will also be available on the district website at www.obenschools.org.
Fencing was installed around the fine and performing
arts wing as construction begins.
Proposed renderings of the new fine and performing