Work on Ocean City High School dome among several projects planned

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OCEAN CITY — The landmark golden dome atop Ocean City High School is in dire need of a facelift, said Tom Oves, chairman of the board’s building and grounds committee.

“It’s hard to see it from the street,” he said, but with wear and tear over the past eight years, it needs to be repaired and “redone,” he added. The project, which includes repainting the golden dome, is expected to cost about $15,000 he said.

The building is about 10 years old. In 2004, voters approved funding for a new building, across the street from the former high school, which had been built in 1923 and expanded in 1983 according to information on the district's website. 

Board members discussed details of several planned projects at a Wednesday, July 23 meeting of the Ocean City Board of Education.

A $2.9 million HVAC project at Ocean City High School is on time and on budget and expected to be completed well before the new school year begins in September, board members heard.

On July 28 and 29, giant cranes are expected to arrive to place two new units on the roof.

A sewer project at the Ocean City Intermediate School is on the back burner for now, Oves said.

“It’s back out to bid,” he said, adding that not one of the bids submitted to date met the school district’s budget. It should be completed in the summer of 2015.

A swipe-style security system at OCHS has been working as planned, he said. An “access and intrusion” study yielded positive results, as those in charge of security know at any given time who is inside the building.

Superintendent Kathleen Taylor said security was a big – and ongoing - issue for the district.

“About five or six years ago the school board allocated funding for security,” she said. The school district changed the entrance pattern to the Ocean City Primary and Intermediate Schools.

“We put double doors in,” she said, so anyone entering the schools would have to go through two layers to gain access, known as a holding area. There is a buzzer at the outside door and visitors must be “buzzed” into both buildings through the main office.

Two years ago, she said, security upgrades provided cameras.

Oves said that board members had gone “back on forth” on the need for security updates to the OCHS atrium.

“Every year, the school board has taken action to heighten security, without being too intrusive,” Taylor said. “We want them to have a warm, welcoming feeling.”

The two-story atrium of the high school, with its wide staircase, she said, was designed to make a statement. Without a double entrance, however, she said it poses a security risk.

“The one building we did not do is the high school,” she said, adding that the atrium poses a different challenge than the other building entrances. With some planning, a design will be crafted that will provide safety while maintaining the integrity of the atrium, she said.

There are many possibilities, she said, including having people enter through the main office. No matter what design is chosen, she said, the entrance would have to be reconfigured.

“We definitely need panic buttons,” she said, one of many recommendations made after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. People in the office would be able to summon help in an instant. “It’s an item we are focusing on.”

Another old issue, back on the forefront, said Oves, is the terrazzo tile in the OCHS hallways. The terrazzo tile, an upgrade selected when the 232,000-square-foot building was constructed, is cracking in many areas. The more expensive tile was chosen because of its reputation for durability and wear.

“We decided that the best way to deal with this is to have an expert come in,” said Oves. First, they have to figure out why the tile is cracking, he said, and then, once the problem is diagnosed, discuss the best way to fix it.

“We’re moving forward, we’ll get an expert’s opinion,” he said.

The OCHS track is in dire need of repair, he said. It has been on the disabled list for some time, he said.

“There are issues with bubbling,” he said. “The city has to contract out the repairs. The city went out to bid two times.”

Thus far, nothing has been done but Oves said city officials are committed to repairing the surface so the boys and girls cross country teams will be able to use the track for cross country meets this fall.

A scoreboard at the OCIS is in the process of being replaced, Oves said.

“Without installation, it’s $7,000,” he said, indicating that the board was moving forward. “Once we purchase it, it takes about five weeks to install.”

Oves said he would continue to update board members on the progress of the projects at the next meeting.

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