Superintendent Confident Pinelands High Will Open on Time

But Junior High Needs ‘Aggressive’ Work Finish
By Rick Mellerup | Jul 31, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Little Egg Harbor Township — Pinelands Regional School District Superintendent Melissa McCooley is confident the high school building will be open for business on Sept. 5, the first day students are scheduled to kick off their 2019-2020 school year.

In fact, she’s so confident that she has scheduled a new student orientation for Wednesday, Aug. 28. Seniors can visit the refurbished building and walk their schedules, meet their classmates and locate and open their lockers at 9 a.m. Juniors will follow at 10 a.m., sophomores at 11 and freshmen at noon, with an ice cream social concluding the day at 1 p.m. That’s right, freshmen – the Class of 2023 – will attend school in the high school building this school year, leaving just seventh- and eighth-graders in the junior high building.

Brian Moore of Epic Construction Management, the firm overseeing the district’s numerous construction projects, gave a report at the board’s July 24 meeting that should have given McCooley even more confidence the high school will be ready on time.

“The first project that we had going on for the (2018-2019 school) year was the masonry restoration, window and door repair,” Moore told the board. “I’m pleased to say we’re done. We’re down to work list, we’re down to cleanup, we’re up to demobilization. If you look at the front of the building, in front of the A Wing, the masonry plant is gone and we’re putting cuffs all around and we’re cleaning up. So right now we’re in a positive thing with that.

“Interior renovation – the majority of the project work is done. We are doing work lists. The canopy is being finished steel-wise, concrete’s going be going down, and the roofing will be going in and such. That’s probably the one most noticeable item you see in front. We are in the process of working through the wing sections of blocks, for cleaning and turning over to the district to do the fine tweaking and such. So that’s where we stand on that.”

But when Moore started talking about the junior high building, he didn’t exactly exude confidence. He used the term “aggressive schedule” numerous times in his short report.

“The junior high is the one aggressive schedule – basically we have two projects going on at the same time, right after school ended (in June). The first one was interior renovation. Last month we just started demolition, selected demolition. Now we are into restoration and completion of the interiors. We’re working on bathrooms, we’re working on HVAC, we’re working on locker rooms, and miscellaneous through the entire project.

“We’re at the point of starting to put some ceilings back together again and turning rooms over to the school district to start cleaning up.

“The other one, which is the aggressive one, is the exterior project that we have going on. The first one, over at the high school, is the path, which is finished already, from the athletic field to the school. New lighting has been put up, we have finished the underground storm storage for that, and they’re in the process of doing the pavement going around the back of the building and the parking lot.

“The last one that is happening is the junior high with the bus lane. We are in the process of almost finishing all the excavation for the three-lane bus lane in the back, we’re putting storm lines in, and grooming that out. So it’s a very aggressive month that we have forward; pretty much it’s the same thing we had when we started the project: a very aggressive, tight finish.”

“So, good to go inside the building, as well as good to go outside the building?” asked Karen Poklikuha, who represents Eagleswood Township on the Pinelands school board. “I’ve heard ‘aggressive’ about six times.”

Actually Moore had only used that term four times. But he was quick to make Poklikuha’s math correct.

“It is an aggressive finishing schedule,” answered Moore.

“But the expectation is that we will meet it?” asked the board member.

“We will meet it if someone could hold nightly rains back,” said Moore. “Right now we were able to get certain soil stabilized, we’re working in the back, and they’re pushing to get base pavement done and such. We already have had some trimming going in, sidewalks going in the back. Like I said, it’s very aggressive in the back. But that’s how the schedule works.”

– Rick Mellerup

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