Weekly Feature

2018-08-09 / Front Page

Possible capital project discussed for Lancaster schools

by EMILY LOSITO Reporter

A possible $77.1 million capital project was discussed by representatives from Young + Wright Architectural company and Buffalo Construction Consultants Inc. to improve the Lancaster Central School District’s buildings.

Steve Shchurowsky, of Young + Wright, spoke mainly about future improvements and renovations to the schools to make the buildings safe and up to state codes.

He said some of the buildings don’t have LED lights, and the old lights aren’t energy-efficient and are yellowing.

Some schools have missing or broken ceiling and floor tiles, several schools need driveways and parking lots repaved, and some schools may need additional classrooms due to a projected increase in the number of students.

“Hillview [Elementary] has some loose ends that still need to be addressed,” Shchurowsky said. “The auditorium … is something that needs attention. The carpet is old, the seats are creaky and crumbling, and they’ve had issues with lighting.”

At Lancaster High School, some of the possible repairs needed are the masonry outside the building, improvements to the cracking tennis courts, and replacement of windows and metal panels between the windows outside.

“Some of the millwork in the science rooms date back to about the 1969 era,” Shchurowsky said. “[The rooms aren’t] necessarily functional.”

Shchurowsky also noted improvements needed in other schools, including Lancaster Middle, John A. Sciole Elementary, William Street School and Como Park Elementary.

The possible project will cost an estimated $77.1 million, according to Shchurowsky.

“This project will focus mainly on students, safety and building infrastructure needs,” he said.

William Gallagher, the vice president of the board, said the upgrades are much needed.

“The number, $77.1 million, looks big,” Gallagher said. “But like anyone’s house, [buildings] wear down after 20 years. … It’s the next step in the process.”

Superintendent Michael Vallely said there would be a 0 percent tax impact for the possible project.

“We want to keep the ball rolling and make sure we’re fixing all the schools and getting ahead of building surveys for the safety and security of the students and the district,” Vallely said.

The presentation, according to Vallely, was in preparation for a board vote on the project at the next meeting later this month.

If approved by the board, the project will then move to a public vote this December, according to Vallely.

In another matter, the board approved the purchase of eight 65-passenger buses and one 20-passenger bus, according to documents submitted by the district. Voters approved the proposition in May.

The cost of the buses totaled about $999,800, which did not exceed the proposed cost of $1.01 million, according to Jamie Phillips, the district’s assistant superintendent for business and support services.

In other matters, the tax rate for the Lancaster district was approved for the 2018-19 year at $17.28 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The tax rate this year is 29 cents higher than last year’s tax rate, according to Phillips.

The total tax levy for 2018-19 was approved for approximately $52.4 million, about 3.6 percent higher than the previous year of $50.55 million. The approved levy is about $680,000 lower than the estimated levy.

This past May, the total budget was approved for approximately $107.5 million, about 3.4 percent higher than last year’s levy of $103.9 million.

The next Lancaster Central School District Board of Education meeting will take place on Monday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. at 149 Central Ave.

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