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Work to begin soon on High/Middle School complex

TONAWANDA - The recent uproar over cost overages for the Tonawanda High/Middle School capital project died down, and now shovels are ready to go into the ground.

Representatives from Wendel Duchscherer Architects and Pike Company were on hand at Tuesday’s Tonawanda School Board meeting to update the project. Work should begin very soon on the construction of a new football field and outdoor sports complex at the Hinds Street site. During the Easter week break, the beginning of the project should be visible to residents.

Following the problems with the costs going above the amount approved by voters, some of the work was rebid at no cost to the district. Those bid are due by April 10, according to Brian Brady of Wendel.

“The bid will include the work at the stadium and will include roofing at Riverview,” he said. “The other part of the bid we’re receiving is an alternative to go forward with a maintenance building.”

Over the next three weeks, the final pieces of research into a new band and choral room will be complete, and that work will be able to start. Brady said he had a “high degree of certainty” that the new acoustics called for in the original capital project will be acceptable and the refurbishing of the rooms will go forward.

Brady said he was a bit concerned that some of the bids are being piecemealed rather than being done as one, project-wide bid.

“We really need to go out to bid with the entire project. I’m not sure what process the board will take, but it’s something that has to be on the front burner,” he said.

The board also released a budget presentation featuring three different options the district is considering for the upcoming budget vote. Those three options include tax levy increases of 4.5 percent, 3.2 percent and 2 percent; the latter would meet the state requirement under the new tax cap. Numerous cuts have been proposed, mostly in staffing and building budgets, including eliminating field trips.

Since 2009, the district has reduced administrative costs 35 percent, teacher positions by 17 percent, teacher assistants by 41 percent, clerical staff by 14 percent and maintenance by 33 percent. If the budget, in whatever its final form, is voted down, $218,000 in additional cuts would need to be made in a contingency budget.
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