Highland School Board president questions capital project’s progress

(Photo by Lauren Thomas)

(Photo by Lauren Thomas)

The Highland Central School District’s regular meeting on Tuesday, November 15 featured an update on the capital project from architect Pat Flynn of Ashley McGraw Architects and Lou Rodriguez with the Palombo Group responsible for construction.

Rodriguez said they were happy with the progress made so far in phase 1-A of the $17.5 million capital improvements project, but Highland School Board president Alan Barone questioned why the project isn’t moving along more quickly, noting that it seemed to have started off well but was currently not at the point of progress they’d expected. With work on the elementary and high school windows and insulation behind schedule, he is particularly worried about maintaining the heat in the buildings in January and February and wondered why second shift work that had been agreed upon has not been introduced. “It’s discouraging at this point,” he said.

Barone also noted that they were informed that phase 1-A went “a little over $1 million over budget,” and yet the board has not received a detailed accounting of finances so far. “The community is looking to us as a board to put this project together, and accomplish everything we set out to accomplish. We as a board have to make decisions about how to move forward, and without that, I have no idea whatsoever where we are financially at this point. That should be cut-and-dry. We need to be involved in that.”

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Moving forward, Barone said, the board needs to receive regular updates on costs.

Bids will go out for the next phase of construction once all approvals are received. The next phase of work will involve the secured access at point of entry at the schools and fire safety measures. The entrances to all three buildings will be provided with secure access requiring an ID badge with bar code to be read by devices at the entrances, and the bell and paging system will be updated. The home and careers classroom at the middle school will be updated, as will the air handling system at the middle school. In addition, the kitchens in the district will be renovated and modernized with new equipment. The last phase involving recoating the roof at the middle school will take place over the summer of 2018. The warranty goes through 2018, so no work will be done until that runs out.

State aid is paying for 66 percent of the $17.5 million project, or approximately $11 million, which reduced the local share to just under $6.5 million. Repayment will be made over 15 years. Taxpayers will not see any impact until 2018, by which time old debt from past projects will be paid off and replaced with this new debt.

More information is available by visiting the district website at www.highland-k12.org or the school’s Facebook page.

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