by Kathleen Duff
The Grand Island Board of Education held its monthly meeting on Monday evening in the new Professional Development room in Grand Island High School. Part of the district's three-year multimillion dollar project, the former senior cafeteria has a new ceiling and lighting, three SMART boards, which are used for teacher and staff training, and some new furniture. The public premiere of the room is one of the many visible changes to the high school, including the STEM addition on Ransom Road where, despite last week's blizzard, work has progressed and is "on schedule," according to Vaughn Maracle of Campus Construction Management.
Assistant Superintendent of School Business Services Joe Giarrizzo told trustees that this first phase of the project is currently carrying a price tag of $24.9 million, and phase 2 (work on the elementary schools) is estimated at $12.1 million. The State Education Department has approved the elementary school work, and it will begin as soon as the bidding process is complete. The plans for a new bus garage on Baseline Road are at the SED awaiting approval. High school auditorium renovations will begin with a kickoff on March 17.
Giarrizzo indicated that there is approximately $3.1 million in "unallocated" funds, and building principals have been asked to review their "wish lists" with an eye to further enhancing the health, safety and program needs in their buildings. Principal Mary Haggerty of Kaegebein Elementary School has talked about changes to music rooms and a new sink in the art room.
Principal Denise Dunbar and the PTA of Charlotte Sidway Elementary School have long talked about a programmable sign in front of the school on Baseline Road. In fact, a PTA fund exists for that purpose. While the bidding process has not yet begun for this improvement to Sidway, Giarrizzo said that a "placeholder" of $45,000 will be in the unallocated funds. However, his guess is that the sign would cost several thousand dollars less than that. Dunbar said the sign would help with school announcements and also with identifying the school from the road.
Consult the district website (www.k12.ginet.org) under Board of Education agendas and under capital project for the costs and progress on the construction. The exact documents that board and administrators receive are viewable there, along with photo updates. Information is also posted to the district Facebook page.
In her report to the board, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Teresa Lawrence said that three of four days allocated in the calendar as possible snow/emergency days have already been used. The state mandates 180 instructional days each school year. In the event that the fourth day is used, she will announce on Feb. 3 that additional make-up days will be pulled from the February recess.
Lawrence added that the decision to close schools is made by the superintendent. Families should listen to local media outlets for official closing information. If no announcement is made between 6 and 9 a.m. of the day in question, schools are open. Also, homes receive a call from the district's Rapid Response System.
Finally, Board of Education President Tak Nobumoto spoke about the board's recent workshop retreat. He said that the board delivered Lawrence's mid-year evaluation and discussed additional scope for the capital project and the upcoming 2014-15 budget process. Lawrence gave building principals a form for them to fill out regarding the board's performance, activities and how the monthly public meetings are run.
All board members attended the meeting (with Paul Krull via Skype), including newest member, Susan Marston, who was appointed to fill the late Joan Droit's seat until May 2014.
The next meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education is Monday, Feb. 10. The first school budget input session will be Feb. 27.