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Frontier capital project components moving along in a timely manner

FRONTIER — The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel can be seen, regarding the ongoing capital improvement project in the Frontier Central School District, according to board of education members.

Various aspects of the $29.75 million project were discussed, during the Sept. 3 meeting of the Frontier Central School Board.

Representatives of Young & Wright Architects, the firm associated with the project, discussed the busy summer season of project work, which included several completed items.

Phase II work was described as taking place at Frontier High School and Blasdell Elementary School. General science classrooms and labs, the nurse’s office, cafeteria, home economics classrooms and main entrance and corridor were noted as completed areas in the high school, this past summer.

All of those locations were ready for the 2013 – 2014 school year, which began on Sept. 4. Staff reported to school on Sept. 3.

The only ongoing phase II work at Frontier High is in the media center, which is slated for completion in February. Heating, venting and air conditioning installation took place this summer, to go along with science/lab rooms’ having replaced tables that are now fully accessible and shower-rinse areas that have both hot and cold water capability. The nurse’s office was reconfigured in a less congested manner that includes both the reception and bathroom areas’ having easier access; the home economics room was re-made, to fit a college classroom layout setting with a more “commercial” setting; the cafeteria now possesses a new ceiling with lights that display less glare and the entrance was described as now being “safer and more accessible,” following various landscaping work, along with the corridors’ being widened.

Other completed high school project components include the athletic fields’ drainage systems’ being updated, as well as the auditorium lighting’s being replaced.

Blasdell Elementary’s completed summer work included electrical, HVAC and audio/visual activities.

The project’s most recent components mark an advanced overall stage of the project, closer to culminating a three-year undertaking, according to the board. Young & Wright representatives have presented the different stages of completed work to the board, during the past few years, and district officials noted the hard work of those involved with the project.

Interim District Superintendent Paul Hashem credited Frontier staff, as well as project workers, for their diligence in wrapping up the essential summer labor in a difficult time frame.

“It’s extremely impressive,” Hashem said, about the finished product. “This has been a massive undertaking this summer. [Director of Facilities] Allan Brown said he’s never seen [a project] this big. But we were ready for our staff today. Tomorrow, we’re 100 percent ready for our kids; we are ready because, cooperatively, we all met the challenges. Everyone involved has been outstanding.

“I expect my phone to ring as little [tomorrow] as it did today,” Hashem added, in jest, in reference to his hope for a smooth start to the school year.

In other meeting news:
– The board approved the reinstatement of 2.0 full-time equivalent positions in the area of elementary education, jobs that included specifically kindergarten at Cloverbank Elementary (teacher Jill Martinez) and fourth grade at Big Tree Elementary (teacher Faith Catarella).

Other teaching appointments included Kathleen Woods as a remedial reading teacher at Frontier Middle School, Wendy Hall as a fifth grade substitute teacher at Pinehurst Elementary and Courtney Hanzlian as a 0.8 FTE ESL district teacher. It was noted that, in addition to the remedial position at Frontier Middle, another 1.0 FTE position was being reinstated, to fill duties at both Frontier High and Blasdell Elementary.

– District parent Lisa Beckwith of Highview Parkway asked officials stand up against state-issued assessments in Frontier schools. Beckwith cited the difficulty that such testing under new common core standards presents for both students and teachers, adding that several other districts across WNY have adopted resolutions stiff-arming such testing.

It had been recently revealed that students across all local districts have struggled on state assessments.

Beckwith said, “There’s so much pressure to teach up to these standardized tests. I will continue to opt out [my son from assessments] through eighth grade. Please fight for these kids. They’re being used as guinea pigs. We do not have to use standardized testing.”

Albert agreed with the sentiment of state-mandated assessments’ being an adverse element to students, adding that the current NYS Education Department is “the most detrimental administration to education.”

The next meeting of the Frontier Central School Board will take place at 7 p.m. on Sept. 17 at the Frontier Educational Center.

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