Eagleswood School Enjoys Added Breathing Room After $4.3 Million Renovation

Nov 22, 2017

Eagleswood Township Elementary School opened its doors to the public last Wednesday during American Education Week to show off the changes and improvements made as its $4.3 million renovation project nears completion.

Principal and Superintendent Deborah Snyder led a tour through the building, pointing out the new addition, which houses an art/music classroom and a science lab. A new designated room provides for special education purposes, including speech, occupational and physical therapy. The kitchen, long overdue for equipment upgrades, now runs more efficiently. The heating and cooling, too, are now far more energy-efficient, which will save the district in energy bills over time.

Whereas some subjects were occupying shared spaces before, which may have compromised students’ learning experiences, Snyder explained, “Everybody has a ‘home’ now, which is a beautiful thing.” Students and staff are enjoying a little more breathing room.

Many of the improvements were made out of necessity, she explained, to replace the aged HVAC and electrical systems, exterior doors, kitchen appliances and other infrastructure and to meet current and next-generation standards for instruction.

Of the total cost, $1.4 million is reimbursed by the state. Voters nixed the referendum questions the first time they appeared on the ballot but approved them the second time around.

Work began at the end of the 2016-2017 school year and progressed through the summer, as motorists passing by on Route 9 would have noticed. Aside from the work on the building, the parking lot was resurfaced and got drainage improvements, and the playground got some jazzy upgrades. The equipment isn’t new, Snyder said, but a new safety surface system was poured and fresh sand was laid. The playground isn’t fully ready to be reopened, so it’s still behind a chain link fence, but in the meantime the kids have the run of large athletic fields at recess.

The project finished within the anticipated time frame and right on budget, according to Business Administrator Allison Bogart. General Contractor Framan Mechanical of Woodbridge and Spiezle Architectural Group out of Trenton were great to work with, she added.

The school year was minimally impacted, with last year ending June 8 and this year beginning Sept. 11.

Science and social studies blocks are an hour long, Snyder explained, and the curriculum is very hands-on, the idea being to make those content areas active, so the flexibility to leave in-class projects sitting out from one day to another is helpful. Elsewhere in the school, whiteboards and Chromebooks facilitate learning with a technological edge. Pre-K and kindergartners are introduced to the Chromebooks in “centers”; first- and second-graders share the devices; while third- through sixth-graders use them individually. In the new arts room, acoustical tiles on the walls and sound-absorbing panels on the ceiling help keep sound contained.

“Used to be, whatever days there was music class, you would know,” Snyder said, as music teacher Alison Walk taught fourth-graders a series of notes on their recorder flutes.

In the cafeteria, the tables are new, and all the classes got new desks and chairs.

The oldest part of the school was built in 1968, and an addition was built in 1988. The playground and roof were re-done in 2007. Enrollment has remained steady around 150 in recent years, Snyder said.


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