Tonawanda News

December 12, 2012

City schools' capital project on schedule

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — After months of waiting, the City of Tonawanda School District has received necessary feedback from the State Department of Education on architectural drawings related to the district’s upcoming capital improvement project.

After viewing the materials, the body also made recommendations.

The long holdup was expected, so the project remains on schedule, according to Brian Brady, of Wendel, the architectural firm working on the project. 

Wendel representatives will now respond to the state’s requests with a formal addendum, before the state will then review that document and respond with a permit for the project. 

The state’s response and permit doesn’t deal with the funding of the project, which was approved in the public vote last spring. 

”We expect to have a permit by the first week in January,” Brady said. 

A request for bids for construction of the project will then go out and will likely be due back by the end of January.

”We will time the receipt of those bids to align with your meetings,” Brady said. “We will then review the low bidder’s qualifications and make our recommendation to the board.” 

A contractor must be approved before work can begin in the spring.

The field and track are scheduled to be complete sometime in mid-August and the music wing, a more complicated structure, is slated for September or October.

At a board meeting last month, project director Peter Buckley, of Pike Co., said the final budget estimate came in about $129,000 over the original figure of $11.9 million. 

But after it goes out to bid, Buckley believes that the project will come in about 10 percent below that estimate.

Buckley also told the board at Tuesday’s regular meeting that a final walkthrough and approval of the new roof at Mullen Elementary has been complete. 

The district received documentation of the roof’s 20-year warranty Tuesday.

However, work to improve the gym’s acoustics still must be complete at the school, and the board is considering use of sound panels that would attach to the wall and would likely cost about $8,000. 

”As soon as we get the OK to spend more, we will do that work,” Director of Facilities Paul Maziarz said. 

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Middle and High School Principal Dr. James Newton presented the board with a new add/drop course policy to take effect in the fall of 2013. 

Students won’t be able to drop a course in the first two weeks of school, but will be able to in the third and fourth weeks. After that, dropping out of a course will only be permitted if the teacher requests it. 

Students must also take at least 61/2 credits, unless they are seniors with enough credits to graduate or are enrolled in Advanced Placement classes — and then they may take 51/2 credits. 

Newton also told the board that about 7 percent of students at the school have 10 or more absences, with a few students missing 40 to 50 days of school just 75 days into the year. 

The current senior class’ drop out rate is about 3.5 percent, according to Newton— with 5 students of the current graduating class no longer enrolled. 

He informed the board about the district’s current efforts to curb attendance and dropout issues, including home visits, family phone calls and teacher intervention. 

”It works for a small percentage,” Newton said. “But not enough. We have a good attendance rate, but we’d like it to be higher.” 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext.