A rising student population is fueling a school construction growth in many parts of the country.
One of the biggest projects in our area is in Lopatcong, N.J. Earlier this year, the Phillipsburg School District discussed plans for building a new 330,000 square-foot high school in the town. Construction is expected to begin shortly. With $87 million in construction costs, plus an additional $10 million to $12 million to equip the building, the project will take several years to complete. Officials are looking at a September 2016 opening.
Highlights include a new auditorium that can seat 1,000 people and become a regional performing arts center, a cafeteria that can feed 700 students at a time, a larger library and a field house complex, all built to accommodate future growth.
Meanwhile, in Allentown, Alvin H. Butz Inc. recently completed an addition and renovations to Allentown School District’s William Penn School at Fourth and Allen streets.
The project involved 25,000 square feet of renovations to the original William Penn School, built in the 1920s, as well as a 15,000 square-foot addition. The new facility can accommodate 350 students in 16 classrooms. Also included are two new science labs, a cafeteria, serving kitchen and administrative offices.
Other features of the project include:
• Replacement of entire walls and ceilings.
• Installation of a new sprinkler system.
• A new rooftop HVAC unit.
• Extensive asbestos abatement.
While there does not appear to be a lot of school construction projects occurring now in the Greater Lehigh Valley, that could change if the student population rises, leading to more construction job opportunities.
The 18th annual school construction report in School Planning & Management magazine shows some interesting trends and offers a national analysis of how and why spending on school construction in the U.S. increased slightly in 2012 – to nearly $13 billion.