May 14, 2016


Homer School Board rejects office plan

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
The Homer Board of Education has opted against leasing the former Cinquanti Real Estate building at 77 South W. Street, shown above at right, located across Route 281 from the high school, to house district offices.

Staff Reporter

HOMER — The Board of Education voted Tuesday to not lease the Cinquanti Real Estate building at 77 S. West St., across Route 281 from the high school, to house the district’s offices.
The board voted against two proposals for the building: one for a five-year lease agreement and one for a three- year lease agreement. Instead the district plans to put the offices in the east wing of the high school –– it’s present location is in the southwest section of the building.
The plan — part of the school district’s $21 million three-phase capital project — was to lease the Cinquanti building instead of building new offices within the transportation facility next to the school to save a significant amount of money.
The original office construction project would have cost about $678,590. Because no state aid is available for office space, local taxpayers would foot the entire cost. So the plan to lease the Cinquanti building, would transfer those expenses to improving the transportation facility, which would be eligible for $563,000 in state aid, based on the estimated budget.
But the board did not think the estimated lease cost, a total of $200,000 over five years, would be cost-efficient and the public overwhelmingly disapproved of leasing the building, Homer Board of Education member William Pedrick said Friday during a phone interview. He did not have the exact cost of the three-year lease agreement, but said it still wasn’t a feasible option. Most of the public wanted to see a shorter length lease agreement, but there wasn’t an option for that, Pedrick said of the residents he had heard from.
“Money is tight,” Pedrick said. “We’re just trying to be careful.”
Homer Superintendent of Schools Nancy Ruscio said the current plan to move administrative offices to the east wing will mean juggling classrooms to accommodate space. But she said she thinks moving the offices there is the best option for maximizing space.
“It is not ideal,” Pedrick said. “Teachers and the board don’t like it. We’ll keep the offices in the high school until a better option comes up.”
By keeping the offices in the high school, the district is still able to receive the $563,000 in state aid to make improvements to the transportation facility.
The suggested repairs to the transportation facility include installing a new roof, restoring the masonry walls, improving the transportation offices, increasing garage door height, improving bus-lift safety and replacing deteriorated pavement.
“Addressing the bus garage issue could save taxpayers close to $1 million down the road,” Pedrick said in April. “We need to take advantage of the state aid, while the state is still offering it.”
Upgrades to the transportation facility were on hold until a decision was made on where to house the offices. Nowthat they have been determined, preliminary steps for redesigning the bus garage have begun, Ruscio said. Along with the two other items of phasetwo — the construction of new tennis courts and a new baseball fence at the high school.


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