December 24, 2011


City school district forming plan for buildings

5-year outlook based on recent survey will guide future construction

Staff Reporter

The Cortland city school district needs to develop a new five-year plan for its buildings and facilities, even if the current $41.6 million capital project is only 66 percent finished, the Board of Education was told this week.
Brian Domke, senior project manager from Tetra Tech, told the Board of Education that the last five-year plan was created in 2005. He outlined possible costs for future projects, encouraging the board to have small projects on a regular basis, avoiding the need for emergency repairs or larger capital projects.
Domke and district staff conducted a Building Conditions Survey recently that identified areas for future repair. He presented the results at a board meeting Tuesday.
The state Education Department requires districts to survey their building conditions and plan for repairs every five years. The city district was allowed some leeway when it did not submit a new plan in 2010 because it was in the midst of a substantial project, but needed the survey done to identify needs before it seeks state aid for new work, said Superintendent of Schools Larry Spring.
The current project, approved by voters in 2008 and begun in 2010, is upgrading heating and ventilation systems and security systems at all six school buildings, and creating new classrooms and offices. It built new athletic facilities at Cortland Junior-Senior High School, which opened in September.
A new stadium and a grass athletic field below it cost $2.8 million, which includes artificial turf, a six-lane track, bleachers, press box, lights and renovations to the drainage system beneath it.
The entire project is expected to wrap up next fall.
Domke said the recent survey identified repairs and system upgrades in three priority levels, some of them not done in the current project due to money constraints.
Top-priority items could include sidewalk and parking lot repairs at the high school and replacing a boiler system at Parker Elementary School. Second-level projects could include replacing fencing, nets and surfaces at the high school tennis courts, and installing more power outlets in classrooms to support new technology.
Lowest-priority projects included replacing the exterior lighting on buildings with LED light fixtures, and removing old parts of building infrastructure such as pipes and wiring.
Projecting that Cortland would receive 80 percent of project costs in state building aid, Domke said the district would need to pay $10.7 million of the $53.3 million needed for all top-priority projects.
Doing half of the projects would cost the district $5.3 million on a $26.7 million overall cost. Doing a quarter of the projects would cost $2.2 million on a $13.3 million overall cost.
Domke said previous state aid for building projects has lapsed or been cut, but new aid could be proposed.
The district has 550,000 square feet of facilities, he said.
Domke said the state moved to five-year building improvement plans to avoid having districts put off capital improvements and do them every 15 or 20 years.


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