Bathroom renovations

On the first day of school, many students were surprised to see that the bathrooms have undergone a 21st century renovation. 

As part of the ongoing construction projects throughout the school district, restroom facilities have been completely overhauled. Every school was fitted with lower toilets, wider stalls, and other amenities that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. 

Many of the former bathrooms were in a state of disrepair: cracked ceilings, leaking faucets, and tiles breaking off from walls. At Ridgewood Avenue School, the urinals in the basement men’s room were installed before the sixties. In the high school, some of the bathrooms hadn’t been altered since the opening of the school fifty years ago. 

Temporary repairs only acted as bandaids on a gashing wound: ceilings were patched with cement to prevent dripping ceilings. Non-functioning toilets and urinals were boarded up for years. Heating systems were stuck on full blast, causing one restroom to feel like a sauna during fall and summer days. To be sure, none of these problems were due to neglect by custodial staff; they simply accumulated over years of use until the need for an update was greater than ever.

Just as the 2017-2018 school year ended, the race was on to complete more than 26 bathrooms by year’s end. With no time to spare, it was a miracle that all of the bathrooms were ready for use by the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. Mr. Phillips, superintendent of Glen Ridge Public Schools, was responsible for selecting the tile colors for each bathroom. Here in the High School, red, white, and black tiles line the wall to represent our school colors. 

Due to the small space and demanding ADA code, the bathrooms in the basement were made to be single-occupancy. For future handicapped students, the change comes as a relief; before, the nearest available restroom would have been in the nurse’s office. 

“It was really a project long in the making,” one High School teacher remarked. “They have been trying to push for toilet renovation since they added the new wing almost fifteen years ago.” 

Because of budget constraints, such proposals were merely a pipedream. The townwide referendum enabled the board of education to proceed with sought-after ideas for the schools, such as new HVAC systems, windows, and bathrooms. 

Senior Emma Velardi said that the bathrooms were both “clean and amazing,” a far cry from the dingy facilities that lasted for decades. Others were wary about some of the changes. “They installed those hand dryers like the ones at Target, which is a problem for me because I am sensitive to loud noises. I would like them to install a paper towel dispenser as an alternative,” one anonymous student noted. “If some of the older restrooms have them, why can’t the new ones?”

During the first week of school, new principal Mr. Lawlor addressed the bathrooms at a class meeting, urging students to take care of them. He spoke about the importance of  respecting one’s school, even if nobody else is watching. 

As early as next school year, Glen Ridge will re-open the Central School to elementary students. Next summer, air conditioning will be implemented in Ridgewood Avenue School. These projects, marking a close to the successful referendum, will leave a lasting mark on the district.