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A long road to school septic upgrades: Aim is for completion by September 2022

Shelter Island School’s new septic projects won’t happen this summer as originally planned.

The COVID-19 pandemic, work in designing and engineering, along with permits needed for the new system have resulted in moving the completion date to September of 2022.

Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D., confirmed the change and said delays in permitting also resulted in delaying the project.

School District officials have money set aside for the projects that had originally been in the unassigned fund balance. Money was moved to several specific funds in line with instructions from the state comptroller following an audit last year.

Current designs are based on the Fuji-Clean CN Wastewater Management System.

Senior Associate John Longo of Patchogue’s BBS Architects, Landscape Architects & Engineers, was on hand — at least virtually — at the June 14 Board of Education meeting to provide an update on work done to date and estimates of completion dates for the steps to be undertaken in the year ahead.

In addition to the need to install an upgraded septic system in a building that gets so much use by the community, some interior work is planned that will enable the district to qualify for state building aid.

One internal project involves replacement of doors to the lobby. Currently there are metal and glass doors that create a vestibule outside the lobby, while a second interior project will replace existing wooden doors from the gymnasium to rooms that provide office space, lockers, showers and bathrooms.

In investigating the septic work, Mr. Longo said he knew about three aged septic systems that were installed to serve various parts of the building. But remnants of a fourth septic system were found and water tested, revealing there is no flow to that system.

In the kitchen area, the team found an inceptor in the grease trap that has to be upgraded to meet code.

Going forward, there will be some delays since work will require shutting down service in several areas from time to time. Installation will be phased to avoid as many delays as possible, Mr. Longo said.

The BBS team is reviewing plumbing, gas and electrical systems and generators — both existing and possible need for additions.

Probably the slowest processes because of backlogs are permits from the New York State Education Department and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. Once the applications are filed, it’s expected to take three to four months to gain the Education Department’s approval and four to five months before the Health Department issues a permit.

Through the end  of July, the design and engineering plans should be completed, enabling the permit requests to be filed in August.

Bid preparations for parts of the projects would be prepared between September and December and selection of those who are awarded the contracts are expected to be made in February.

But from March through May of 2022, some construction will get underway and plumbing and electrical work is slated to begin next June. Sanitary system replacements and new doors to the lobby and internal doors in the gymnasium are expected to take place in July and August of 2022. By the time school reopens the following month, the new system is expected to be completed.

In other actions, the Board:

• Approved curriculum for a Native American history curriculum presented by social studies teacher Sean Brennan.

• Celebrated the retirement of Laura Leever, who retires as Spanish teacher the end of the school year after 18 years.

• Welcomed the appointment of Laura Mayo, who has been a staff member, but now moves into the position of Spanish teacher.

• Welcomed Kristin Andrejack as a physical education teacher.