Wednesday, May 03, 2017

EHC School Needs SDA Repairs

EGG HARBOR CITY — News of long-awaited school repairs was greeted with skepticism from city officials during an April council meeting, who say they are worried the myriad issues at the Egg Harbor City Community School will never be fully resolved if the school district receives a certificate of occupancy.
“They get a (certificate of occupancy), we’re done. We’ll be paying for those mistakes forever,” Mayor Lisa Jiampetti said during the April 13 meeting.
Since it opened in 2011, the $22 million Egg Harbor City Community School has had issues, mainly centered on the HVAC system. Because the New Jersey Schools Development Authority managed the construction project and paid for two-thirds of it, it was up to the state organization to make the repairs.

Meanwhile, the district has been operating with a temporary certificate of occupancy.
In March, School Business Administrator Joe Smurlo said the SDA will finally make the repairs and then return $292,760 being held in escrow by the SDA to the district. 
Jiampetti, who also works at the school, complained at the April meeting the HVAC repairs are only part of the problem. 
“Let me tell you about the gym floor. They’re going to do it, but guess what, they are refusing to sand it to make it the same color,” Jiampetti said. “So now we’ll have a gym floor with two different colors. We do not deserve that. We do not deserve to be flushing hot water down the toilets in that school and I have just about had it."
Smurlo said it is true the SDA has agreed to replace a portion of the gym floor that became warped from water damage but will not pay to have the entire floor stripped so that the new floor will match the existing.

He said it also is true there are issues in the school toilets that may be flushing hot water due to a problem with “mixing valves” that control the temperature of the water coming out of faucets, which are motion-sensored.
“When those are set up, the hot water and the cold water are always on,” he said.
Smurlo said that in the winter, “you can feel that the water in the toilet is warm.”
“The state doesn’t care. They’re dragging their feet, and it’s costing taxpayers money. Everytime the school has to make repairs, it comes right out of their general fund,” Jiampetti said.

She said she hasn’t gotten anywhere trying to get the issues resolved.
Council President Ed Dennis said the problem is the school isn’t pushing hard enough on the state.
“The school has taken this attitude, ‘Well, it’s not our problem,” he said.
Dennis said it “shouldn’t be five years after the school was built that we're sitting here talking about a school problem that we have no control over.”
Dennis told Jiampetti he would speak to his contacts at the state about setting up a meeting to address the city’s concerns.
Meanwhile, Smurlo said the School District takes the position that the SDA will correct the problems without legal action.
“We’ve had so many conversations with SDA. Our feeling is, how far can you push them?” he said. "The cost of the litigation would not be worth what we would get out of it."

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