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After nearly a year's delay, the Cleveland Hill School District's $28.5 million capital reconstruction project is about to begin.

Cannon architects warned the School Board this week that there will be some tough money juggling and phasing during the three-year reconstruction project.

"There are going to be some musical chairs. It's going to be a little inconvenient," said lead architect Hans Kullerkup. "We can't leave all the construction for the summer months or it would take years to complete."

As it is, the project which should begin soon after the bids are awarded today, will not wind down until the end of summer 2002. Actual demolition won't start until at least February.

Once started, the mess will be almost constant until work is done when school opens in the fall of 2002.

Still to be determined are the "staging areas," which are the the bases of operation, and "surge spaces," where kids will be relocated for classes while others are built or renovated.

Preliminary decisions have been made on the project's timetable. However, Cannon explained that most logistical choices can only be made as work progresses.

The biggest, most expensive and longest part of the project to complete is the new athletic facilities. Much of the school's athletic program will be relocated off campus for about two years during construction of the center core of the school complex. The area will house a new triple gymnasium, elementary gym, natatorium and locker rooms.

That is also the future location for a glass-walled cafeteria and community room that will run along the length of the new central corridor, or "Main Street."

There are also some tough choices that must be made to keep the plan fiscally conservative, district Business Manager Cameron Morton said.

Although bids for the first phase of the plan came in roughly $13,000 under budget, Morton agreed with Cannon representatives who advised raising the contingency reserve that covers project surprises from 5 percent up to 7 percent for an extra cushion -- just in case.

The board meets again Wednesday to review a list of possible items either to permanently or temporarily take out of the design.

Some could be restored if the budget allows. But some will be structural decisions that could not be reversed once construction begins.

In other business, the board raised the regular substitute teacher pay to a $70 flat rate from from $55 and $60 per day. Long-term sub pay was lowered to $130 per day from $150 to off-set the cost. Officials hope to alleviate a substitute shortage with the higher rate that is now comparable to that of other districts.

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