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North Harford pool among $7 million in school repair projects OK'd by board of ed

The Board of Education is expected to approve is money for necessary repairs to the pool at North Harford Middle School among other construction project priorities.
The Board of Education is expected to approve is money for necessary repairs to the pool at North Harford Middle School among other construction project priorities. (MATT BUTTON / AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Nearly $7 million in construction contracts for Harford County Public Schools were approved Monday night by the Board of Education, including repairs to the North Harford Middle School swimming pool.

The biggest of the four contracts was the $5.6 million project to enclose the open space classrooms at Bel Air Elementary School, which will necessitate reworking the HVAC system, Joe Licata, assistant superintendent of Harford County Public Schools, said Tuesday.

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All four contracts were unanimously approved as part of the school board’s consent agenda. There was no discussion of any of them among board members.

Bel Air Elementary is the last of Harford’s schools with open pods, Licata said.

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“They are very inefficient, noisy. It was a concept developed in the 1960s, early ‘70s for open spaces where teachers taught together,” he said. “It was thought to be a good idea, but it just doesn’t work in this day and age.”

Safety and security is another factor in eliminating the pods, he said.

“The self-enclosed classrooms are not just wide open and four classrooms full of kids in a wide open area,” he said.

The contract was awarded to Temp Air Company Inc., the lowest of four bidders on the project.

Most of the work will be done over the summer when students aren’t in school, Licata said.

Pool repairs

Repairs to fix the leaking pool at North Harford Middle School should be fixed before the next swimming season, Licata said.

A contract for $179,592 was awarded to Paddock Swimming Pool Company for the project, which includes excavating to see how bad the leak is and what other issues there might be.

The contract was budgeted for $353,000, and it’s possible the repairs could increase to that amount, “but let’s hope they don’t,” Licata said.

“They’ll excavate, because it’s all underground somewhere, identify the source of the leak then make whatever repairs are necessary. I’m 99 percent sure when they get down there, they will find other issues related to that, so while it’s open, they’ll fix those as well,” he said.

Also submitting bids for the project were Patriot Pool Service LLC, $210,000, and Plano Coudon Construction, $292,615.

In late 2016 and early 2017, the swimming instruction and interscholastic competition programs were threatened with elimination because of budgetary concerns over maintenance and repairs, not only at North Harford, but at the other two pools at Edgewood and Magnolia middle schools.

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But student swimmers and parents and alumni of those programs mobilized a sustained protest, and the board went on to approve funding for maintenance and repairs to the North Harford pool.

Roof, energy contracts

A contract for $927,500 was awarded to Paneko Construction Inc. to replace the roof at North Harford Elementary School. It was budgeted for $1.06 million.

The other bidder was SGK Contracting Inc., which submitted a bid of $1.29 million.

A contract for $168,913 was awarded to Johnson Controls Inc. of Sparks to install new building controls at Emmorton Elementary School.

The school’s control system, a Metasys brand Building Automation System network, needs to be replaced to allow for proper control of the heating and air-conditioning systems. By updating the controls and installing a hot water reset, energy consumption will be reduced.

Johnson Controls will remove the existing network and replace them with new, updated devices.

Bids for the three contracts came in less that what was budgeted, which has happened for the school system’s last five or six projects over the last year or two.

“When you have time to properly plan and develop a good, tight scope of work, and your engineers and architects have time to properly plan and you get a good set of bid documents, it minimizes risk for the people bidding the project and you usually get some very competitive prices,” Licata said.

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