Big Fix Could Cost $7 mil

Posted on 12 March 2009

After a semester’s worth of meetings on a facility study, the Sag Harbor School District’s long-range planning committee finally brought their suggestions to the board of education on Monday evening.

Their suggestions came from a report completed in February 2007 by BBS Architects and Engineers, P.C., and on Monday the district’s architect was invited to give a presentation to the school board based on the committees decisions.

The presentation included some final recommendations by the long range planning committee totaling nearly $7 million in improvements if all the facility needs are met — and possibly twice that amount if parking and a new auditorium are considered.

Architect Larry Salvesen gave a condensed version of the seven lengthy meetings the committee held dealing with the facility needs of both schools. At those meetings, the planning committee went through a laundry list of items dealing with health and safety that would bring both school buildings up to current standards. The committee labeled potential items for improvement — such as doors, windows and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems — into three different priority groups. The study includes some 400 items in need of repair or upgrading.

To remedy those health and safety issues listed as first priority, it could cost the district $1.3 million. For priorities labeled as one and twos, the cost to the district could be $2.2 million. With all three priority groups considered, the amount comes to $ 7 million. Salvesen explained, however, these figures could be spread out over a longer period of time and over several budget cycles to soften the effect.

Not included in the projected $7 million for maintenance requirements, however, are the major projects — including changes to the auditorium and parking.

The long range planning committee suggested fixing the parking lots of the elementary school and changes to the Jermain Avenue lot at the high school to make both more suitable to the school’s needs.

Salvesen explained that 41 additional spaces are needed at the elementary school in order to have adequate on-site parking for those who work at the school.

Salvesen said one of the elementary school’s parking lots, located on Hampton Street, would cost around $320,000 to upgrade from 26 spaces to 51. The Atlantic Street lot, he explained, would cost $341,000 and add 20 more parking spaces. The cost to upgrade the Jermain Avenue lot at the high school from 36 spaces to 53 spaces would be $375,000. The total price for all these parking lots would be just over $1 million.

Salvesen also summarized committee discussions for a new or renovated auditorium at Pierson. Committee members have narrowed the auditorium options down to three and are now looking to the board of education for suggestions on which plan of action to take.

The least expensive plan, noted Salvesen, would be a $900,000 renovation of the auditorium. Some of the items listed in this suggestion by the architecture firm have already been included in this year’s budget, however – including the replacement of the main curtain for $40,000.

The second plan is a $2 million project that would add about 68 seats on a balcony above the existing auditorium. This option would also renovate the bathrooms in the curved hallway, make improvements to the main entryway, improvements to the stage, among other things.

The third option is a $12 million project which moves the auditorium into the courtyard area and rebuilds the current facility to be used as classrooms. This option would also eliminate the curved hallway for better use of space.

A new curtain and an updated HVAC system for the auditorium have already been added to the proposed budget — that figure is just under $100,000.

The financial analysis portion of the presentation was not discussed, however. School board president Walter Wilcoxen cut the presentation short, since it was closing in on two-and-a-half hours. Salvesen did say the board of education would have the final say on financial impact and putting the idea out to voters.

Long range planning committee members have discussed the impact to taxpayers at prior meetings and have a plan for how some of these expenses can be covered. Next year, there is a $3 million bond expiring — which would allow the district to take out another bond at the same price and, according to superintendent Dr. John Gratto, have no impact to taxpayers. For a new bond of $3 million Gratto explained there would be an additional cost of $50 per year for a homeowner with a house valued at $1 million.

Wilcoxen said he would like to invite the budget advisory committee members to the next long range planning committee meeting to talk about bond issues and to “make it more manageable for us.”

Gratto indicated that once decided, the plan would likely be put out to vote in the fall.

 

Laptops for teachers — not kids

In other news the laptop initiative was also amended at Monday’s meeting.

Just a few weeks ago, the school district announced it was considering a leasing model for laptops for high school students. The laptops were also to be issued to fifth and sixth graders to use in the classroom — but not to be taken home.

Gratto announced on Monday that after a visit with some of his colleagues at Westhampton Beach High School, where there is a similar program in place, the Sag Harbor administrators decided not to implement the plan it introduced in January.

Gratto cited the fact some teachers were not adequately using the laptops in the classrooms in Westhampton Beach and said this is a reason to reconsider the initial idea. Gratto said instead, 60 computers will be allocated to teachers in the elementary and high school on a lease agreement to familiarize teachers with how the computers can be best used in the classroom. Then, at a later date, the laptop program for students would be considered.

 

 

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