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BOE to Fund Balance of Learning Commons Project

Construction likely to begin in the summer, despite the state's rejection of a grant application for the project.

A rendering of the proposed Ridgewood High School Learning Commons by LAN Associates.
A rendering of the proposed Ridgewood High School Learning Commons by LAN Associates.

The Ridgewood Board of Education agreed Monday night to proceed with the Ridgewood High School Learning Commons, following the state’s rejection of a grant application earlier this month.

An ambitious home and school association fundraising drive will be supplemented by $528,000 in additional spending by the school board from the district’s capital improvement account, Superintendent Dan Fishbein said.

“We have looked at the drawings and made some changes – I wouldn’t say they’re significant or structural – to bring the bids down,” he said Monday night.

Plans for the renovation of the high school library were scaled back slightly, mostly with superficial, visual modifications to bring the estimated total construction costs down to $946,000, according to the superintendent.

The new estimate is not much lower than the one presented to the board last spring, but Fishbein said it’s a more accurate one. Bids on the project received by the board earlier this year pushed the budget up significantly and led the district to apply to the state for a capital improvement grant.

The state Department of Education did not deem the project a priority, and declined grant funding that would have paid for 40 percent or more of the cost.

Board President Sheila Brogan said the district’s capital account was “healthy” and could handle the expense.

“We’ve had a good run where we’ve been able to build that account up,” she said.

The Learning Commons entails construction work on the school’s current 50-year-old library, renovating the room into a high-tech student center with group meeting rooms and modern technology.

The school board also agreed Monday to bid out two capital improvements to the high school that will be funded in part by state grants -  an HVAC upgrade and window replacements to the rear of the building.

Fishbein said that bids would likely be solicited for the Learning Commons project later this month or in early January, with work to be done over the summer.

AMAMOM December 17, 2013 at 12:33 PM
This headline would be more accurate if it stated " THE BOE DECIDES TAXPAYERS ARE GOING TO PAY FOR THE LEARNING COMMONS" I don't really have an issue with paying for this but lets be honest about where the money is coming from please!
Ron Verdicchio December 17, 2013 at 07:30 PM
The learning commons is a very forward looking project.
Harlan Consider December 18, 2013 at 09:39 AM
I agree with Amamom. All too often we see public officials getting high fives, plaques, and statues over funding various causes. It's not difficult to come across as the hero in funding something with other peoples money.

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