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The Hamburg Central School Board Tuesday awarded $12.63 million in contracts to 16 companies for work on the district's $15.1 million capital improvement project. Some of the work might begin next week.

The board unanimously approved the low bidder awards on the recommendation of Ciminelli-Cowper Co. Inc. of Buffalo, the construction management firm for the project.

"We came in just almost right on the budget," said Thomas R. Tripp, Ciminelli-Cowper's project executive, referring to the $12.63 million budgeted for actual construction work. Contract awards totaled just shy of the budgeted amount. A total of 79 bids were filed with the district for 16 contracts.

"We've worked with many of these (contractors)," Tripp said, noting that that's somewhat unusual with such a large project. Project Manager Frederick Colmerauer will hold the first meeting with contractors Thursday.

The project includes an expansion of the senior high school to include ninth grade, establishing a middle school at the current junior high, enlarging classroom space at the district's four elementary schools to accommodate enrollment growth, implementing full-day kindergarten and improving handicapped accessibility and computer networking throughout the district. The changes are to take effect at the start of the 1997-98 school year.

The board hired Wilsandra Construction Co. of Buffalo as the general construction contractor for $3.44 million. The remaining subcontractors are located in the Buffalo area, with one from Rochester.

Some minor design changes to the project include the use of an alternate resilient matrix flooring in the corridors of the addition to the high school, instead of using terrazzo flooring, which still will be used in the cafeteria. Windows designed to allow more light in also will be added to a school cafeteria, and air-conditioning will be added to the Charlotte Avenue Elementary School computer room. The latter two changes were additions to the initial plans for the project, factoring in projected savings by the corridor floor change at the high school.

The overall project budget also includes $530,000 in contingency funds for change orders, in addition to $2.3 million -- $1.8 million of which is for "soft costs" and $500,000 for furniture and equipment. Soft costs cover items like fees for architects, construction management, testing and blueprints. The budget also includes $150,000 for a district office elevator.

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