Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

December 1, 2013

Tuesday vote set in Wilson

By Kaley Lynch kaley.lynch@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — WILSON — A public vote on a proposed $4.5 million Wilson School District capital construction project will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Zipp Athletic Center.

District residents are being asked to approve the project, which according to school officials would be paid for with state aid and district capital reserve funds. Undertaking the project would not add to the school tax levy, Superintendent Michael Wendt said.

The proposed project consists of:

• Rebuilding parts of the middle/high school and Thomas Marks elementary school, which according to district officials no longer meet state building codes.

• Safety updates including installation of impact-resistant glass on doors and windows in the middle/high school, as well as security shades and new locks so that instructors can lock classroom doors from inside in the event of a lockdown.

• Energy efficiency work — replacing exterior building lighting with “greener” LED lights and replacing the stadium lighting for the baseball field with more efficient lights on fewer poles.

• Addition of a new multipurpose computer lab at Thomas Marks and upgrade of the district phone system.

Project designers speaking at a Board of Education work session last week estimated that 85 percent of the project would be funded by New York State building aid, leaving about 15 percent to be covered by the district.

“These projects will bring the schools up to code and help us to protect our investment as a community,” Wendt, the superintendent, said.

About $1 million from local reserves would be used to cover the local share of the project ultimately. Because state building aid is paid out after-the-fact, the district would borrow the full amount, by issuing a one-year bond anticipation note first, then a 15-year serial bond. Annual state aid payments would cover the interest that the district pays on the bond.

Much of the proposed work at the district buildings is preventive, according to Business Administrator John Montesanti. He cited roof replacement for the high school as an example. It’s a $100,000 project that, if done as part of a capital project, will be reimbursed 85 percent by the state, whereas if the roof was replaced under emergency circumstances the district would get socked with 100 percent of the tab.

“Using state aid, this plan will keep us from needing to raise taxes or cut services to fund reconstruction,” Montesanti said.

Construction costs are estimated at $3.45 million. Funding for contingencies — unplanned events or modifications of the reconstruction designs — and incidentals including legal, architectural and engineering fees, adds $1.05 million to the tab.

Mark Rampado, district director of facilities management, said the proposal calls for renovations and upgrades only. No expansion of facilities is planned, he said. If the proposed work costs less than is currently projected, leftover money would be returned to the district capital fund, he added.

If approved by voters, construction could begin in spring 2015, district officials said. The duration of work is an estimated 16 months.