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Montclair (N.J.) school district moves ahead with nearly $60 million in facility upgrades

Aug. 19, 2021
HVAC upgrades, priced at more than $38 million, account for most of the work.

The Montclair (N.J.) school district is moving ahead with nearly $60 million in facility upgrades.

The plan includes many categories of work — interiors, plumbing, electrical — but the largest component is HVAC, priced at more than $38 million, reports Montclair Local

The state of HVAC systems in Montclair schools has long been a concern, but one that became particularly acute in the coronavirus pandemic. A report last year detailed $26 million worth of needed repairs. Some rooms had no mechanical ventilation at all.

Concerns about the state of ventilation and ongoing community spread of coronavirus factored into the district’s decision to repeatedly push back planned start dates for hybrid learning in 2020-21, and Montclair Education Association (MEA) members refused to return to school buildings in January. 

MEA President Cathy Kondreck said members of the union told her they have seen little to no improvement in the HVAC systems. Small fixes such as opened windows and air purifiers were just temporary fixes, Kondreck said. In the colder months, opening windows will no longer be an option.

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