BY JOE OLENICK
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —
A committee charged with looking at the possible renaming of North Park Junior High School is expected to be established by the Lockport City Schools Board of Education at its next meeting on May 22.
Superintendent Michelle T. Bradley said the creation of the committee and the naming of its members is on the agenda for the board meeting that night.
"It's anticipated the board will take action," Bradley said.
The committee will include Trustee Jon A. Williams and North Park Principal James Snyder, a teacher, a student and a community member. It's expected that'll it will take no longer than six months for the committee's work to be complete and a recommendation made.
The board would have to approve a new name with a two-thirds vote.
The idea of renaming the school came before the board about a year ago, when a group of residents made a request that North Park Junior High School be renamed in honor of Aaron A. Mossell, an African-American businessman who was instrumental in desegregating Lockport schools.
He pressed the Lockport school board for five years to allow his children to attend a school closer to home, instead of the school for blacks that was miles away. He succeeded in 1876, almost 80 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court case that desegregated schools across the country.
Most of Lockport’s buildings are named after an individual, such as John Pound, a former Board of Education president and Washington Hunt, a governor and first Niagara County Court judge. The only two without a person’s name are Lockport High School and North Park.
North Park opened as an elementary school in 1940 on Passaic Avenue. It was a middle school until the district reorganized, moving all seventh- and eighth-graders to North Park and calling it a junior high school.
In other district news, at a public hearing on Wednesday, Assistant Superintendent for Finance Deborah Coder went over all of the choices district voters will have to make at the annual budget election on May 21.
Voters will have to consider an $83 million budget for the 2013-14 school year, which is a spending increase of about $3.1 million or 3.96 percent compared to the current school year. The tax levy will rise 2 percent or by $692,000 to $35.2 million, while $2.6 million will be used from reserves, as well as $2 million from the appropriated fund balance.
Lockport was hit with major increases in healthcare, workers' compensation, Teacher Retirement System and Employee Retirement System contributions. Those combined were a $3 million increase for 2013-14, compared to the current school year.
If the budget is adopted and nothing changes with assessments and equalization rates, the tax rate would increase about 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. If assessments increase and equalization changes, the tax rate would rise about 40 cents per $1,000.
Residents will vote on a $22.1 million capital improvement project. The project will include a number of repairs and upgrades needed throughout the district, most of which were tagged in a state-mandated building condition survey.
Voters will also choose three board members, each for a three-year term. Those running include incumbents Edward Sandell, Jon Williams and Diane Phelps, as well as Randall Parker, Todd McNall and former Board President Marietta Schrader.
Polls will be open from noon until 9 p.m. May 21. First Ward residents will vote at Washington Hunt, 2nd Ward residents will vote at the Board of Education building, 3rd Ward residents at Anna Merritt Elementary, 4th Ward at Charles Upson, 5th Ward at Roy B. Kelley and all other school district residents will vote at the high school on Lincoln Avenue.
• Board members also approved an agreement with the city concerning the extension of the Reed Street water main.
The move would improve the quality of water for those on Reed Street, as well as nearby Roy B. Kelley by creating a looping water line. It will also lead to additional fire hydrants for the school.
The city will purchase materials and perform the work. The district is responsible for the stone for the pipe bedding.LOCKPORT CITY SCHOOLS PROPOSED 2013-14 BUDGET • TOTAL: $83 million, a spending increase of about $3.1 million or 3.96 percent compared to the current school year • TAX LEVY: Will rise 2 percent or $692,000 • VOTE: Polls are open from noon until 9 p.m. May 21 • POLLING PLACES: First Ward residents will vote at Washington Hunt, 2nd Ward residents will vote at the Board of Education building, 3rd Ward residents at Anna Merritt Elementary, 4th Ward at Charles Upson, 5th Ward at Roy B. Kelley and all other school district residents will vote at the high school Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.