Jan 17, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The Skaneateles school district is moving forward with plans to make major improvements to the middle school and high school buildings during the next six years at a currently-projected price tag of $19.5 million.
Details of the facilities’ needs and concerns, which have prompted the action, as well as a project timeline were discussed at length during the Jan. 8 meeting of the Skaneateles Board of Education.
Dale Bates, assistant superintendent for business and finance, and Vincent Sicignano, superintendent of buildings and grounds, gave a Powerpoint presentation of numerous photographs showcasing the problems and deteriorating conditions of the two school facilities, including ceiling, wall and floor damage in classrooms, hallways, the library and the boys and girls locker rooms; building cracks and needed exterior masonry repairs; unsuitable windows that are causing water leaks and damage; multiple areas of necessary asbestos removal and the need for new boilers and major mechanical improvements in both buildings.
“We are at a point where we need to move forward on this,” Bates told the board.
The high school and middle school buildings were constructed in the 1950s, and although there have been a few upgrades and renovations since that time, many parts of the structures are original and therefore more than 60 years old.
The district’s last major renovation endeavor, Project 2000, did not address most of these issues but was focused on library upgrades and student services in all four district schools, Bates said. That included increased classroom space, support service areas for special needs students, some building cosmetic work and creation of the current district office. Renovations to the middle school gym and locker rooms were initially part of the project but were removed due to rising costs, Bates said.
The Project 2007 renovation work focused mainly on State Street school with some work on the middle and high schools, and that was also when the artificial outdoor turf athletic field was installed at the high school.
During the Jan. 8 presentation, Sicignano showed the school board dozens of pictures he had taken — out of a total of more than 200 pictures of facility issues and damages — and explained all the needed repairs and upgrades to both buildings. Many of the issues have been caused by masonry cracks, created shortly after original construction from the settling of the buildings, he said. These cracks have led to extensive leaking and moisture damage to windows, ceilings, walls and floors throughout both buildings.
Many of the ceiling and floor tiles in both buildings also are coated with or made in part of asbestos, which would have to be addressed anyway, but the leaking and concomitant damage to these tiles makes the issue even more necessary, he said. Likewise, many sections of the building roofs are more than 25 years-old and in need of repair, and, being above asbestos-coated ceilings, if they were to collapse into the building, “you would have to close the whole building” because of the health hazard, Sicignano said.
“All of this [asbestos] has to be gotten rid of [and] has to be fixed before anything else is done,” he said.
Among the numerous photos shown, the middle school gymnasium and locker rooms showed dilapidated and outdated lockers, wall cracks and water damage, worn out gym floors, and a shower room section where the floor settled at least two inches creating a huge gap between wall and floor.
“The plan is to take this gym out and rebuild it completely,” Sicignano said. “That’s really all that can be done.
Like the gym locker rooms, the schools’ hallway lockers are all simply outdated and completely worn out, and many of the classrooms’ furniture and chalkboards are “antiquated” beyond their useful lives, Sicignano said.
The presentation to the school board was focused on the facilities’ issues and the work to be completed and not on the specific financials of the project, which will be discussed at the board’s Jan. 22 meeting, Bates said. He did give a brief overview of the preliminary project budget, which totaled $19,523,027, although he said that will change as the architects and financial advisors come on board the project, and, he said, the number will almost certainly grow due to inflation.
“We’ll continue to update you on this over the next two months, and will definitely by March 1 have a full detailed report,” Bates told the board.
Bates also gave the school board a timeline for the project beginning with the Jan. 8 work session and ending with the May 21 budget and school board elections, during which residents will vote on bonding for payment of the $19.5 million work. The timeline included the dissemination of project information to the entire district community (along with the district school budget) on May 1 and a public meeting on the project on May 7.
Construction is currently expected to begin in fall 2013 and be completed in winter 2016, Bates said. The project architect will be the Bernier Carr Group of Watertown, who did the Project 2007 work for the district, and at least four contractor bids will be publicly offered for general contracting, electrical, plumbing and mechanical, he said.
BOE member Keith Krieger, who sits on the board’s facilities committee, told the board at its Dec. 18 meeting that the project will be completed in four phases. Phase 1 will include asbestos abatement, roofs for both buildings, boiler replacement and masonry restoration; Phase 2 will include HVAC, lights and ceiling replacements; Phase 3 will include general building renovations, new computer labs, a new generator, elevator work (mandated by federal law) and general technology improvements including the addition of classroom white boards; Phase 4 will include a complete renovation of the middle school gymnasium and locker rooms, and improvements to the grandstands and press box on the high school football field.
All of the pictures Sicignano took and showed to the school board, as well as the project timeline and preliminary budget will be posted on the district website at sckanschools.org in the near future for residents to see, Bates said.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.