by Kathleen Duff
Monday evening, the Grand Island Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to begin the process for building a new transportation center (bus garage) on Baseline Road behind Charlotte Sidway School.
"This is the end of a long process," stated Superintendent of Schools Robert Christmann, speaking about the months of investigation by the board, administrators and Cannon Design, who had presented trustees with "red," "white," and "blue" plans, all of which continued to raise concerns for Baseline Road residents.
Residents attending Monday's session again said they do not want a new facility because they are concerned about disruption of athletic fields adjacent the school and also wonder about the impact on traffic patterns, air quality and tax dollars.
District Director of Business and Finance Joe Giarrizzo told the board that the "White is the best option," agreeing with Christmann that it would raise the level of student safety, and be more efficient as the plan would re-use the existing bus garage as a buildings and grounds facility. Currently, maintenance crews work out of Eco Island on Staley Road where seasonal equipment has to be stored outdoors. The board-approved option would revamp the maintenance building at Eco Island for use as the district's nature preserve classroom. Necessities include a better telephone system and fire alarms, and upgrades to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The State Environmental Quality Review Act process will now begin: 75 days from the approval of the resolution to ballot, with the public vote being advertised in local publications 45 days before the polls. Details on the transportation center options and their costs may be viewed on the district website: www.k12.ginet.org.
In other business, trustees approved a resolution for use of school property on Staley Road by the Niagara Sunday Fliers. The club flies radio-controlled model airplanes and will be interacting with the high school's technology students as they study aeronautics. Kristin Yiengst, who owns the house next door to the field, asked the board who may be liable for trespassers on her property and for possible injury to the horses she stables. She also said that club members have been using the field prior to board approval. Another Grand Island resident said public parks should be used for flying, utilizing areas which are already open and have public restrooms. She saw "no benefit to the district."
Christmann said that the field is open for use to anyone who asks permission of the district to use it, and that the district is responsible for maintenance. Board President David Goris said, "Having been there and seen it, and given a copy of the rules ... I would recommend passing the resolution."
In the "Roundtable" portion of the agenda, Trustee Tak Nobumoto said that the board should look into "spots of inappropriate behavior" in Grand Island High School. In addition, Paul Krull said he been getting calls about the "lax" dress code. High School Principal Sandra Anzalone promised the board a presentation on the district dress code at the next board meeting.
Finally, Grand Island "hallwalkers" will be able to use halls in the high school/middle school complex free of charge this school year. Previously, hallwalkers paid a $15 community education fee for their four nights a week of sheltered exercise. The district is now waiving that, but will require users sign-in and out each evening and will use high schoolers who need community service hours to monitor sign-ins and to hand out passes.
The next meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education is Monday, Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m. at Eco Island on Staley Road. Trustees and administrators will tour the facility at 6:30 p.m.
Board of Education Trustees
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