Haddonfield schools bathroom upgrades have been delayed again

Haddonfield board of ed cites improper documents, too-high bids

The Haddonfield Board of Education announced the results of a number of bids at its Jan. 19 meeting, including the disappointing news that for a second year, bathroom renovations have been delayed.

There were no bids for the job last year; bids for this year were rejected either for being higher than budgeted or because of improper documentation.

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“Unfortunately we had to reject all bids, the two lowest for documentation and then after that,  because of budget,” said board member Mike Catalano. “ … But, we are immediately going right back out to bid, and hopefully a month from now, when we come back on the 23rd, we have contracts to approve.”

Although the bathroom upgrades are on hold, the board was able to approve a bid for work on the A wing roof replacement at the high school from AMTEK Consulting Inc., DBA A&M Contracting of Edison.

Catalano said it was unusual for the second lowest bidder to have submitted improper  documentation.

During his remarks at the meeting, Superintendent Chuck Klaus gave an overview of district needs for the 2023 bond referendum. He explicitly made clear that the list he was reviewing was not what was being proposed for the bond referendum, or what would be voted on, but more of a comprehensive list of things that need to be improved throughout the district.

Those needs include: accessibility, especially at Lizzy Haddon Elementary; more space in buildings; rooms dedicated to related services like occupational therapy, physical and speech therapy, which all share a space; teacher work spaces; and HVAC systems and windows, Klaus also noted school-specific needs, such as separating the cafeteria and gym at the elementary schools. 

“We’re still talking Kingsway Learning Center,” he said. “That’s a big deal. That’s why that Hopkins parcel slide was so blank, because if we can acquire Kingsway Learning Center and it fits our needs … we would use that for a kindergarten and pre-K building and use Hopkins differently.”

In the upcoming months, the district wants to continue developing designs with LAN Architects, price out projects, trim the scope of what will be worked on and submit it to the state Department of Education to establish the referendum date. Klaus said that could be September or March of 2024. The scope will be shared at board of ed and other community meetings once it is finalized.

In other news:

  • The board said goodbye to its 2022 student representatives Charles Webb, Aubrey DeCristofaro and Charlotte Lucas, and swore in three new student representatives for the year. They are Cambel Shim, Brian Meng and Paige Esemplare.
  • The Student Life Committee, headed by Meg Hollingworth, announced a goal to cultivate a sense of belonging. Students will not be directly involved with the committee, though it will occasionally receive input from student representatives
  • The board formally abolished policies 1648.11 and 1648.13, which had been put in place during COVID. While not observed since last June, the move formally ends the employee vaccination/test-to-stay program.
  • The board heard impromptu performances by All South Jersey Honors Ensemble students Kai Freeman, 9th grade; David Ma, 11th grade; Claudia Fisicaro, 10th grade; and Mary Maia, 8th grade.

A board of education work session will be held on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m.

This article was updated on Jan. 24 to clarify that while delayed, the bathroom renovations are expected to continue.

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