Tonawanda News

October 9, 2013

Closing buildings would cost $6.1M

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Closing three of Ken-Ton’s non-instructional buildings would cost the district $6.1 million, Superintendent Mark Mondanaro said Tuesday night while presenting his report to the board.

Mondanaro prepared the report over the past three months, after the board charged him with acquiring appraisals for three structures — the administrative and maintenance buildings on Colvin Boulevard, as well as the Phillip Sheridan building on Elmwood Avenue. 

“We did a hypothetical exercise to investigate the cost of actually moving people in these departments,” Mondanaro reported.

Although the sale of the buildings would bring in an estimated $2 million, the cost of moving the departments outweighs the revenue, the report indicates.

Under the hypothetical exercise, buildings and grounds, food service and the continuing education departments would move to the transportation building on Military Road, which is in need of renovations.

All the other departments, including the administrative offices, would move to the now-closed Jefferson Elementary. 

But the grand total for repairs and accommodation changes at those two facilities amounts to $8.94 million. Mondanaro said he expects the state would offer $700,000 in funding for the project. 

Shuttering the three buildings would save $303,124 in estimated utility costs, but the district would spend $40,000 in utilities to reopen Jefferson.

The district would save $30,698 in the salary and benefits of one maintenance worker, but would lose $116,022 in revenue from two renters at the Phillip Sheridan building. The rentals account for $30,000 more than the cost of utilities.

Although closing all three buildings seemed unfeasible Tuesday night, Mondanaro said the plan could be executed over the course of three or four years as a capital project, and that funds could be taken out of the current capital reserve.

The board could still consider closing one or two of the buildings, either now or in the future, Mondanaro said. 

The board also unanimously approved a resolution calling on the state commissioner of education and the Board of Regents to reduce the “over reliance on standardized testing.”

Board President Bob Dana cautioned that the board still stands by its opposition to parents opting out of the tests.

“There is potential we could lose state education funds ... I am not going to put our district at risk. But we are absolutely in favor of getting testing right, not eliminating standardized testing,” he said.

Mondanaro and Board Vice President Stephen Brooks said they also support the measure.

“Some of the tests out there are ridiculous for the age groups, for the time allowed, for the kinds of things they are tested on,” Brooks said. 

Student Services Director Robin Zymroz also delivered a report Tuesday on the official enrollment statistics at the start of this year. The district has 303 fewer students than it did last year, she said, a drop of 2 percent.

“It is down, but not unexpectedly so,” she said.

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.