By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Mullen Elementary’s roof replacement won’t be finished by the start of school next week as originally hoped, according to Superintendent Whitney Vantine.
“It hasn’t gone as smoothly as we would have liked,” Vantine said. “We don’t think we are going to make the September date. To be blunt, it’s far worse than we thought.”
Construction will continue for a few weeks into September while the students are at school.
Representatives from Pike, the construction firm managing the capital project, and Wendel architects attended Tuesday night’s board meeting to answer questions about the delay, and the extensive damage to the roof.
Most of the construction that’s left to do on the roof is in the gym and Project Manager Peter Buckley of Wendel said they plan on isolating the gym to repair the roof starting Monday.
Children will either go outside for gym or have activities in another classroom until the construction is finished.
Also as a result of the ongoing replacement, the school won’t be able to hook up a gas line to the kitchen. Instead, cooked food will be made at the high school, and then transported to Mullen.
Buckley assured the board that the children will be completely safe while entering, leaving and at the building, but said there are some procedures that can’t take place when children are in the building per Commissioner’s Regulations.
Construction crews are already working 7 days a week, but may have to start working at night, according to Buckley.
“We have to look at other hours, and we might push some construction until early morning,” Buckley said.
School board member Jennifer Mysliwy raised concerns about construction noise throughout the night and how it may disturb neighbors.
“Are you just hoping no one calls?” Mysliw asked.
But Buckley didn’t have much of an answer.
“How that’s going to work with neighbors, I don’t really know,” Buckley said.
Vantine said he wouldn’t release financial information regarding if the roof work will cost more than expected until the entire job is done, but said there is a chance the replacement will go over budget.
Both Valentine and Buckley said that despite the delay, they are happy they decided to go ahead with the roof replacement this summer.
“Based on the winters we have here, we are making a good decision,” Buckley said.
School board officials also discussed the declining enrollment rates in the district at Tuesday’s board meeting.
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Mary Beth Scullion gave a report on this year’s enrollment numbers at Tuesday’s meeting and said the district currently has 1,823 students enrolled.
“That is down almost 25 percent from 2001,” Vantine said.
Scullion also said that a few class sizes are over the goal of 25 students, and a few kindergarten classes are up to 20 students per class.
“I’m concerned with 20 per class,” Mysliwy said. “Those kids are tough, and the standards that they have for those kids are tough. But I know there isn’t much room in the budget for anything.”
In addition, Riverview Elementary is beginning to bust at the seams. Although it’s always had higher enrollment rates than the other elementary schools, this year, the gap is even larger.
If the trend continues, the board may have to reorganize the district boundaries or look at other options.
“We need to keep an eye on that trend,” Scullion said. “The school is already at capacity.”
Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150.Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150.