by Larry Austin
Building reconfiguration of elementary school grade levels is off the table for now as the Grand Island Central School District continues work on a possible capital construction project.
The Board of Education met last Thursday with members of its ad hoc facility committee and decided to hold off on grade reconfiguration, which would have entailed moving second grade classes to Sidway School to form a kindergarten to grade 2 building at Sidway with grades 3-5 at Huth Road Elementary and Kaegebein Elementary.
While the reconfiguration had positive educational reasons, said Superintendent of Schools Robert Christmann, "It's a 'not now,' " Trustee Glenn Bobeck said.
"We have other needs that are significant," Bobeck said, explaining that other building improvements surpass the reconfiguration in importance.
"I don't think it's time and I don't see any overwhelming reasons to switch to another model," board Vice President Tak Nobumoto added.
The facility committee is helping the board establish priorities in the capital project, and the board's decision to hold off on reconfiguration, which would have entailed extensive capital improvements at Sidway, helps the committee more clearly focus on choices, Nobumoto explained. Referring to a list of project options provided by representatives of Cannon Design and Campus Construction Management, the decision "takes a lot of these options out of the picture," he said.
Meanwhile, the board is seeking more citizen input on the facility committee. Board President David Goris commented that as individual subcommittees finished their work and reported to the full facility committee, "there wasn't as much participation as the process went forward."
"I don't think there were complaints" about the committee, Nobumoto said, as much as member availability for meetings declined.
The last capital project proposal failed at a referendum two years ago. The board had originally targeted presenting a proposal in September with an October referendum.
"This was a new committee that was formed," Goris said. But "you find as you get into it that with time availability and people availability things will shift."
The pace of the work is "a reflection of doing it the right way," Nobumoto said, "However with any project there are dates you have to put out there as a target."
"It's more important to do it the right way than meet a target that was artificially determined to begin with," Christmann said.