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Upgrades may cost over $10 million

With the conditions of its eight schools listed as unsatisfactory under state standards, the North Tonawanda School Board will consider undertaking a capital project program to correct that situation when it meets Jan. 30.

School Superintendent Vincent Vecchiarella said he will ask the board to consider developing a capital improvement plan that would ensure school buildings are safe and structurally sound and to provide the equipment needed to run updated technology programs for students.

The board could very easily undertake $10 million to $11 million worth of renovations and improvements next year that would have very little impact on local property taxes, Vecchiarella said.

He said the district could use the $1.36 million in state Expanding Our Children's Education and Learning money it is entitled to, along with its capital reserve funds, to pay the local share of the costs. The state would reimburse the district for at least 70 percent of the tab.

Vecchiarella is starting the move after receiving the results of a Building Condition Survey conducted by Trautman & Associates, the architectural firm hired to do a five-year capital facilities plan.

That plan contains an estimated $70 million in proposed capital projects the district could undertake. About $20 million worth of work needs to be done to bring city schools into compliance with state standards.

The five-year plan has been forwarded to the state Education Department and was presented to the board last month. It identified the condition of the district's buildings as "unsatisfactory" under state specifications.

To bring all into compliance, the report says, there must be $6.15 million in work at Meadow Elementary and North Tonawanda High schools; $3.3 million at Spruce Elementary; $3.92 million at Reszel Middle School; $2.3 million at Grant Elementary; $2 million at Gilmore Elementary; $1 million at Drake Elementary; and $800,000 at Ohio Street Elementary.

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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