The Matawan Aberdeen Board of Education voted Monday to allow the business administrator submit a $2.9 million capital improvement plan to the New Jersey Department of Education.
The improvements involve several district wide security upgrades expected to cost $589,980, including the installation of external door card access readers, replacing core exterior door locks, replacement of 40 surveillance cameras, replacement of main IT network switches and the upgrade of the walkie-talkie system. The plan also includes $50,000 to install LED lighting at Ravine Drive, Lloyd Road and the Matawan Aberdeen Middle School to improve safety in the parking lot and the area surrounding the building at night.
"We're taking this Connecticut issue very seriously," Superintendent David Healy said.
In addition to the new security measures, there are plans to make building and paving improvements throughout the district. The improvements include $1,200,000 for roof upgrades at Matawan Regional High School and Cambridge Park, $600,000 for boiler replacement at Lloyd Road and Strathmore and $90,000 for district wide improvements to the public address (PA) system.
The plan also includes $240,000 for a generator at the high school and $180,000 for safety improvements at the high school auditorium.
According to Healy, the generator will be run on natural gas and will be powerful enough to keep the lights and technology operational. It will not, however, provide enough power to be used as an emergency shelter, he said. The safety improvements in the high school auditorium will include removing the carpet and the tiles under the carpet, which contain aespestos, Healy explained. The flooring will be redone and carpeted and lights will be installed along the aisles to reduce tripping hazards.
All of the improvements were identified as necessary by the district's architect, USA Architects of Somerville, according to Healy.
The funding for the $2,949,980 plan comes entirely from surplus funds in the budget.
"We have roughly $5.7 million in excess surplus and every cent of that will be going into things that the district has needed for quite some time," he said.
According to Healy, the district was able to accumulate so much excess surplus by implementing several cost savings measures. The largest savings came from renegotiating the district's prescription plan, negotiating the teacher's contracts so that the 2.5% raises began in the 2011-12 year rather than 2010-11, identifying and removing students who do not actually live in the district, and improving special education programs so more students can obtain a quality education by remaining in-district.
Healy explained that spending the surplus funds on the district's infrastructure allows them to invest in the district without creating a budgetary need to continue to support a program or salary.
"Surplus is for a one time expenditure. You don't want to create a cliff or a shortfall. The best place to put it is into your facilities because those are one time expenditures that last a long time," he said.
These capital improvements are in addition to a number that were approved at the end of 2012, including the raising of the old Cliffwood Elementary School.
According to the resolution, if the Department of Education approves the proposed projects the business administrator and the architect will be authorized to advertise for and receive bids. Once bids are received and reviewed, the board of education will vote on whether or not to accept the bid and continue forward with the project.