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Facilities committee overhauls proposed capital improvements

photo of blueprintsAfter voters on Oct. 21 rejected the district’s proposed $18.5 million “Innovation through Renovation” capital improvement project, the Marcellus Central Schools facilities committee went back to the drawing board. The group’s goal: to pare down the scope and price tag of the earlier proposal by nearly $4 million and increase its state aid eligibility.

A new plan, presented to Board of Education members during a special meeting Dec. 8, eliminates most of the new construction included in the original design, such as a lobby addition and expanded parking areas at the high school. New construction qualifies for less state aid than renovations to existing space, architect Matt Monaghan of SEI Design Group explained during the meeting.

“The new lobby would have been beautiful and the expanded lobby restrooms more conducive to large groups, but those changes were not going to be cost-effective,” Mr. Monaghan said.

The revised proposal’s total cost is $14.84 million. Mr. Monaghan said he estimates 98 percent of the work qualifies for state aid, and the local share would come to $33 for the owner of a $100,000 home ($24 less than the original plan).  

The only addition now included in the proposal is a new choral room adjacent to the auditorium. The existing choral space, athletic offices and large-group instruction room will give way to an integrated main office, to centralize administration, guidance, health services and the school resource officer.

The “Revised Capital Improvement Project for 21st Century Education” also includes roof replacements at the high school and K.C. Heffernan Elementary School. A roof assessment recently completed for the district identified acute deficiencies in the roof of a rear wing at KCH and in the section that connects the main part of the high school building with the auditorium.

All the academic improvements requested for the high school in the first referendum remain unchanged in the new plan. As before, the project would renovate and transform the high school’s science, math and technology classrooms into a collaborative, cross-curricular STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) annex on the first floor, and create a similar second-floor humanities wing for English and social studies classes. The high school work also includes renovations to boys’ and girls’ locker rooms and the relocation of the main entrance to be closer to the gymnasium and auditorium.

Opened in 1965, the high school has remained largely unchanged in its 50 years of operation.

The project also would repair deficiencies that were identified in the district’s 2010 Building Condition Survey – a mandatory evaluation of the district’s facilities (utilities, plumbing, electrical, lighting, roofing, etc.) that the state requires every five years. The survey calls for the installation of new entry doors and corridor lockers, replacement of skylights, water pumps, pipes, removal of asbestos and lead-based paint and the painting of exterior wood fascia.

Here’s the building-by-building cost breakdown:
  • Marcellus High School: $13.8 million (reduced from $17.7 million).
  • Driver Middle School: $40,000, to install a secure entrance.
  • K.C. Heffernan Elementary School: $973,125, to replace unit ventilators; replace the roof on a rear wing of the building; and install a secure entrance.
At its next regular meeting, at 7 p.m. Dec. 15, the Board of Education will consider scheduling a public referendum vote, most likely for March 10, 2015, as well as a public hearing on the project at 6 p.m. March 2. The district is in the process of scheduling dates for public information sessions and facility tours. Check the website for updates in the days ahead.
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