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Board OKs $5.4 million Excel project

The Hamburg School Board approved a $5.4 million capital project dubbed "Excel" -- the second capital project in 18 months -- during Tuesday's meeting.

District residents will vote on the project on Feb. 27. A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 5 in Union Pleasant Elementary School.

Business Manager Thomas Bagley said that, unlike the previous project, Excel will have no impact on current or future school budgets and will cost taxpayers nothing.

"It's perfect timing for us to do this. We're in the middle of a capital project and there were so many things we couldn't do with the first one," said Board Member Edwin Osborne.

Excel gives "second priority" items that were cut in the first project an opportunity to be looked at again, Bagley said. District voters approved a $12.7 million project a year ago to address major improvements and maintenance issues at the district's six buildings.

Proposed Excel improvements include parking lot replacements at three buildings, smart boards in all computer labs, upgrades to the Howe Field bleachers and press box, repairs at the middle school pool and energy conservation endeavors.

District officials began looking into a second capital project when additional funds from the state Education Department were made available as part of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity's lawsuit. Though there is no stated deadline to use the funds, Bagley said that there is a concern the money could run out since any school district in the state can apply for them.

If approved, construction is expected to start in the spring of 2008 and reach completion by the end of 2009.

In another matter, plans for a new playground at Union Pleasant Elementary School have been revised. Initial plans placed the playground across the street from the school. However, physical education teacher and playground committee member Tim Nyhart said the playground has been moved next to the school for safety reasons.

Nyhart said that about a third of the $90,000 projected cost has been raised through fundraising efforts.

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