School hallways across the Garden City Public School districts may be devoid of students at this time of the year, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a flurry of activity going on. As is usually the case during the summer, preparations for the upcoming school year incude a number of construction jobs ranging from large-scale renovations, such as the preparation for and installation of a HVAC unit in the high school auditorium, to a host of smaller tasks, such as failing tree removal and pruning. It’s a process that Assistant Superintendent for Business & Finance Dana DiCapua has gotten used to as part of the long game when it comes to capital projects.
“Capital projects take about two years, if not a little longer. The money [for them] is either allocated through capital reserve funds or budgetary appropriations over to the capital fund. And those monies can sit there over a period of time because these capital projects cross over from one year to the next,” she explained. “A good share of them need to go up to the State Education Department [SED] for approval. So we work with our architect preparing the project for our presentation up there and those projects can take some time up at SED for approval once they’re done. Once we get budgetary approval from the voters and the money is appropriated, we apply to SED for a project number. Once the project number comes in, there is some preliminary work that needs to be gathered, including the drawings from the architect. You have to go through environmental and historical [processes]. Once it’s a package, [the whole thing] is put together and goes up to SED, who are the ones that actually issue us the building permits.”
Major renovations included the completion of extensive abatement in the high school auditorium’s catwalk area, as well as the removal of the old air handlers. A new air conditioning unit is being installed and the auditorium/gymnasium lobby bathrooms are being demolished and upgraded for ADA compliance with anticipated completion this fall. Also at the high school, the basement and crawl space areas are being abated after which all piping will be re-insulated. The art lab is being completely renovated with re-cabling for 30 new 21.5” iMac computers, plus new furniture, flooring and wall paint. Clearly visible on the Rockaway side of the high school, the bus circle is being reconstructed with a wider driveway, new curbing, sidewalks and asphalt. The auxiliary gym floor is being refinished, and the room will be fitted with new wall and floor mats. The boys coaches’ office is receiving a new tile floor, the science department office received new flooring, and the principal’s office was painted and received new carpeting. For DiCapua, the air conditioning and ADA compliance with the bathrooms were propositions that needed to be seen through to completion.
“We didn’t have air conditioning in the auditorium. It did not exist. This dated back quite some time. Most schools have one large air-conditioned space. The auditorium gets a tremendous amount of use. From a community perspective, we thought it would be a good project for the community and it had been something that had been in the thought process for a while,” she said. “[Upgrading] those bathrooms came up because we wanted to have a handicap accessible bathroom closer to the gymnasium and the auditorium. It was something that the community had been asking for and we thought it made sense. They really were not laid out well to accommodate that.”
Other concerns addressed were Garden City Middle School’s auditorium, which is receiving new wall paint and is having the stage floor sanded and repainted; Stewart received new classroom drop ceilings with LED lighting in seven classrooms and several sidewalks are being replaced. The flooring was replaced in the nurse’s office and the kitchen at Homestead, and safety tree pruning was completed at Stratford.
Technology-wise, the district continues with its 1:1 initiative, adding five new Chromebook carts—two at the middle school and three at the high school. Fifth-grade students will receive Chromebooks and second and third-graders will receive iPads. District-wide security projects are also underway, including the installation of additional security cameras, strobe lights and the securing of the schools’ vestibule doors. In addition, each classroom in all seven schools is being cleaned and made ready for the arrival of kindergarten through grade 12 students on the first day of school—Tuesday, Sept. 4.
All seems to be on target according to DiCapua.
“We are happy to report that several projects are already completed and many others are progressing on time and on budget,” she said.