There’s a river in the basement of Liverpool Middle School that runs through the crawlspace every spring thaw.
Liverpool Elementary School, despite having one of the highest percentages of special needs students in the district, isn’t in compliance with standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
“These two buildings have suffered from tremendous neglect over the last 50 years,” said Liverpool Central School District Board of Education President J. Mark Lawson. “That’s got to stop.”
The capital improvements to both buildings, as well as some at the Wetzel Road complex, were discussed at the board’s last meeting Monday Nov. 19. Cost estimates were not available at that meeting — they will be discussed at the board’s next meeting Dec. 3 — it was clear that both village schools are in desperate need of repair.
“There’s an embarrassing disparity” between LE and LMS and other buildings in the district, Lawson said. “These buildings are falling apart. It’s something you associate more with the crumbling inner city.”
The improvements to both schools were discussed in a presentation by Nick Signarelli of Ashley McGraw Architects, the firm working with the district on all of its improvement projects.
“We initially looked at Liverpool Elementary and Liverpool Middle School when we did our five-year [capital improvements] plan in 2004,” Signarelli said. “At that point we made it a priority to renovate them.”
Aside from minor updates in the 1960s and 1970s, LE and LMS have not been renovated since they were constructed in 1953 and 1957, respectively. Signarelli said the renovations under the project proposal would allow the schools to save more energy, update their electrical and mechanical systems and address some program needs.
At both schools, the renovations would create a separate loop for buses; as it is now, both buildings have one loop shared by buses, walkers and car traffic (students being dropped off or picked up by parents).
“It’s hard on any given day, but as soon as we get rain or snow, car traffic triples or more,” said Bob Gaetano, principal at LMS. “There’s too much traffic. It’s not safe.”
The new plan would separate bus traffic from car traffic, making the parking lot a much safer place for the students of both schools.
In addition, the libraries of the schools will be joined in a central complex like that at the Soule Road complex.
“Their [LMS’] library now — it just makes me sad,” said board member Dee Perkins. “It’s tiny. They need something better.”
“This will be a great benefit to the literacy of our children,” said Bill Mugridge, principal of Liverpool Elementary.
The project will also expand the schools’ music rooms, classrooms, lab space, OT/PT areas and art rooms. A performing arts center that will benefit the entire district will be constructed, as well.
“Every single student in the district will benefit from this,” Gaetano said. “It will make it [the LE/LMS complex] the gem of the district.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.