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Second forum held for possible $25 million capital project in Grand Island Central School District

Sat, Oct 20th 2018 06:55 am
By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
A second community forum on a possible $25 million capital project was as lightly attended as the first, drawing only a handful of residents.
District officials and building condition committee members who worked on identifying district building needs for a possible capital project outnumbered community members at the forum, held Tuesday in the Little Theater of Veronica Connor Middle School.
Those who did show up heard a relatively unchanged description of the project that has three elements:
1. Safety and security enhancements at the entrances to VCMS and Grand Island High School.
 2. New roofs, air conditioning in schools, and updates to the high school/middle school music wing.
3. Athletic turf behind the Ransom Road complex.
New to the second forum was an animation of aerial images for the proposed athletic turf fields.
Safety and Security
Superintendent Dr. Brian Graham said the location of the VCMS office, down the hall from the entrance, has the district concerned because there is "nothing that prevents" a visitor from entering the building and avoiding the main office altogether. The redesign of the entrance would take three classroom spaces and redesign them into a new main office. Visitors would enter the building through the office, as they do at the elementary schools. Visitors would then be asked to put their license into a reader from which a visitor pass will be printed.
Graham said three classrooms would be reproduced into a new main office and the current main office would be reproduced as classrooms from which the school would "gain some instructional space for students."
At the high school entrance, the district learned during an active shooter training drill that there isn't much to stop a visitor from making a left inside the door and entering a high school wing. A solution would involve creation of a secure greeting vestibule.
Graham noted that many visitors to the school are there just to drop off something (lunch, sneakers) that a student forgot to take to school. With a new vestibule, those visitors could make their drop-off without entering the high school hallways.
Community member Erin Pizur at the forum said that in September "the second floor of Sidway is awful" because of excessive heat.
"The second floor is not a good learning environment" at those temperatures, Pizur said.
Graham said a long-term solution is to add A/C with small capital outlay projects of $100,000 a year, aidable from the state at approximately 74 cents on the dollar.
•Kaegebein and Sidway schools need new roofs.
•The music wing on the Ransom Road complex was built without bathrooms or water. "I don't know how that happened, but it happened," Graham explained. With hundreds and hundreds of children in the wing every day, a unisex bathroom and drinking fountain are proposed, the Graham said.
•The auditorium in the high school would see improvements to acoustics, remodeling of the catwalk and erecting of the sound booth that is currently "a little close to the members of the audience," Graham said.
Athletic turf
The project would include one turf softball diamond and one turf baseball diamond with a multi-sport field located in the outfields of the diamonds.
Graham said athletic turf at the school would bring the softball program back to the high school campus from its Veterans Park diamond, addressing what he suggested was a Title IX inequity.
Graham said "a tremendous problem with the grounds" during the recent wet spring confined the ball teams to practicing in the gymnasiums this season. Softball coach Cheryl O'Connor said "I had two games" on Veterans Park, with the other softball games moved off-campus to the fields of their Niagara Frontier League opponents who already have turf.
The upgrade to the ball fields would also come with a new concession stand, lights and sidewalks. The district sees a value in having the fields to its physical education program as well.
If the board approves forward with a project, a community vote to approve or reject the project would be held in January 2019. If passed, the State Education Department would review the project in the fall of 2019. Bids would be awarded in the winter/spring 2020.
The next regular meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education will take place at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22, in the Professional Development Room of Grand Island High School, 1100 Ransom Road.
Board of Education meetings air on Time Warner Cable Channel 22.
Board of Education Trustees
  • President: Ashli Dreher
  • Vice President: Susan Marston
  • Trustees: Glenn Bobeck, Robin McCreary, Joy LaMarca and Donna Tomkins
  • Superintendent: Dr. Brian Graham
  • District Clerk: Jude Kuehne
Send comments to the board at [email protected].

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