‘Aggressive’ construction taking place at Haddonfield schools this summer

The approximately $35 million referendum construction is currently seeing work done to the district throughout the summer.

Pass by almost any public school in Haddonfield this summer, and it’s clear construction is underway. With fencing up, steps missing and notices warding off the public from entry, the approximately $35 million referendum construction project is seeing work done to every building in the district except the administrative offices.

The day after Haddonfield schools let out, construction got underway. All of the schools are in the midst of extensive exterior work.

“It’s a very aggressive project,” said interim school business administrator and board secretary John Deserable.

When planning the updates, the district held public meetings and focus groups. The goal has been to bring all of the buildings up-to-date, Deserable said.

The two-year project began this summer with exterior work, and all of the progress is being monitored daily. Deserable and his staff have been on the job site every day since the construction started, and the district hired two new, full-time construction managers who are supervising the work with a close eye.

Deserable said Haddonfield Memorial High School’s stadium was originally constructed in the 1930s and hasn’t seen many updates since then. Construction on the stadium immediately followed the last day of school with all of the seating having been taken out and hydro pressure washed to remove loose debris. Work on the stadium’s seating, masonry and paint will have the facility under construction until late November.

“It’s going to be beautiful when it’s done,” Deserable said.

A major problem facing every building was roofing leaks, with the high school experiencing the worst of it. Deserable said work on all the schools’ roofs is going on concurrently, and the goal is to have every roof repaired by the time students return to school.

Other noticeable changes for returning students will be new windows and coordinated HVAC systems.

The construction does come with its strains, Deserable said. With the high school facing the most construction, students there will feel the effects of the work most acutely.

Deserable said his team is in the midst of working with the borough to address parking. He said the high school is already at a disadvantage with limited parking, and the construction will limit parking further.

“We were at a disadvantage with parking to begin with, and now with the construction and the contractors coming in and out of the site, it’s going to push back into the community,” Deserable said.

Students will be strongly encouraged to carpool when possible, Deserable said.

Ultimately, Deserable compared the construction taking place to any home improvement project. The results will be worth it in the end, but in the meantime, there will be grievances to overcome.

“So far the board, the staff, the residents — everyone has really been working with us,” Deserable said. “It’s a community effort, and when it’s done the community will be better for it.”