Superintendent Corner: Referendum Construction Update

By on August 2, 2020

“Whatever good things we build end up building us.” Jim Rohn

Dear Verona Public Schools Community Members,

Our school district is experiencing quite a bevy of activity this summer as we manage nearly twenty referendum construction projects. We have been pleased with the pace and quality of work as we continue to improve our facilities for our students, staff, and community members. The following update will provide our community with our progress as we are approaching the middle of the summer.

As a reminder, all Board of Education property is closed to the general public during school construction. This includes parking lots and playgrounds. The only district property open to the public at this time is the Forest Avenue School grass upper field accessible from Halsted Street. There have been instances where community members have disregarded prior messages, signage, and caution tape. These actions pose safety issues to individuals, interfere with construction and materials, and have caused vandalism in some instances. Students are not permitted to be on playground equipment at this time. We appreciate you communicating this information to your children.

We will continue to update the public with our regular updates during our Board of Education meetings. A general overview of our construction projects are highlighted below. Please click the video below to take a look inside at the progress for our school construction projects.

Roofing & Facade – The majority of roofing projects at all of the schools are substantially completed. Work will continue with finish details over the next several weeks.

Playgrounds & Resurfacing – Demolition, drainage improvements, new playground equipment, rubber floor resurfacing, new fencing, and recreation equipment are nearing completion. A reminder that playgrounds are closed and not permitted for use during construction and COVID. Please remind your children.

Paving, Masonry & Railings – Masonry (sidewalks, stairs, etc.) and railing work has made good progress. Most of the paving projects at VHS and Laning will be completed in August.

Stage Rigging – Demolition of stage areas with asbestos abatement has been completed and design and installation work will continue through the remainder of the summer.

VHS Hallway & Floor Tile – Corridor wall tile installation is currently taking place and will continue over the next several weeks. Floor tile installation will begin in late August with finish painting in early September.

VHS New Gym – The old gymnasium floor was removed, the walls have been repainted, and the subfloor is nearly complete. The finish floor will then be installed and painted with athletic striping. New bleachers are expected to arrive in September and installed by October 1st.

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Windows – As planned, all window repairs have been completed at four of our schools. Unfortunately, window replacement at HBW and FN Brown will be delayed due to production slow down as a result of the COVID impact on manufacturing. We were recently informed that we should now expect new window replacement delivery in November. Once the new windows arrive, we will coordinate the installation during second shift work after school hours so as to minimize disruption to our classroom teachers and students.

Heating, Ventilation & Air ConditioningAs reported at our Board of Education meetings, the VHS HVAC project is currently underway. The school district was successful in receiving a proposal that was under budget during the public open bid process on April 9th. This construction project is progressing as expected. It is possible that this project will not be fully completed in time for the start of the school year due to manufacturing delays of specific components as a result of the current public health crisis.

Unfortunately, there was no interest from HVAC bidders for HBW and all four elementary schools on April 9th. This seemed to be attributed to apprehension from contractors as a result of the novel virus and recent school closures at the time. Our district rebid the project in accordance with state statute. The Verona Public Schools once again advertised and rebid the HVAC project. On May 8th, a bid opening resulted in all submitted proposals to be significantly over budget. Regrettably, all bids had to be declined due to budgetary reasons. I will underscore that the impact of COVID created a heightened sense of trepidation and uncertainty, including but not limited to equipment manufacturing delays, increased costs due to supply and demand during the pandemic, tight project timelines, and a potential reduction in availability of installers.

Over the past several months, I have been working with our Board counsel, architects/engineers, and construction management firm on the next steps. We will begin negotiations in August with interested companies as regulated under state statute. The goal is to bring the HVAC projects to fruition. It is our hope that negotiations will produce a favorable outcome. The budget for these projects is available and we will apprise the public as we learn more in the future.

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Athletic Facilities – Demolition and asbestos abatement of VHS and HBW locker room rooms, as well as the athletic trainer room, have been successfully completed. Rough work of these spaces is currently in process.

Assembly Doors & Rekeying School Locks – Contractors continue to work toward completion of new safety measures as we await delivery of new lock mechanisms and security doors for August installation.

HBW Track Replacement – The deteriorated track has been removed and drainage work was completed. Installation of the new rubberized surface will be installed in August and athletic striping as needed.

Phones & Sound System – Upgrades at HBW and all elementary schools including hard wiring has been completed at several schools. The remaining wiring will continue as planned. The final phase of this project will be to connect all phone and sound system devices.

Fire Detection System – Upgrades to ensure all schools are equipped with state of the art safety features is ongoing across district schools.

Boilers – Repairs and enhancements to school boilers will occur in August.

We provide regular public updates at our Board of Education meetings on the status of our construction projects and all district matters. This remains the best source for accurate information. The public may access past updates via the district website under the Board of Education tab. Additional information related to the referendum may be accessed on our district website or by clicking here. Stay safe and be well.

All my best,

Dr. Rui Dionisio
Superintendent of Schools

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