The Niagara Falls School Board approved a contract with Cannon Design of Grand Island to do the architectural work on $17.2 million in proposed projects to upgrade and improve the district's eleven school buildings.
The agreement will pay Cannon a fixed fee of 7.5 percent of all actual construction costs, plus reimbursement for expenses.
Members took action after questioning Angelo Massaro, the district's lawyer, to make sure Cannon was responsible for doing everything necessary to get the project off the ground. That includes coming up with the architectural drawings and forwarding them to the state Education Department for approval so the district can be reimbursed by the state for 83 percent of the costs.
The local share will be financed with the help of $6.1 million from the state's Expanding Our Children's Education and Learning (EXCEL) program, to which the district is entitled.
Massaro assured the board that Cannon will do everything necessary to properly draw up the various parts of the project, and prepare and send the required drawings off to the state for review and approval.
School Superintendent Carmen A. Granto said the projects will impact every school in the district. He said they are being put together to upgrade school buildings and improve safety, health, security and technology.
Board President Robert Kazeangin Jr. said the board is still reviewing some $20 million in projects to determine which ones will be included. About 50 projects are listed for board consideration.
"The board has to determine which projects we'll do. We want to make sure our buildings are as safe and secure as possible for our children," he said.
Among the list of possible projects the board can choose, one calls for the purchase and districtwide installation of SMART Boards -- computerized interactive boards instead of chalk boards -- for about $2.4 million.
To help make those decisions, Kazeangin said the board will look at what recommendations principals feel are most needed in each of their respective school buildings.
Another project under consideration is the construction of a football stadium and track and related facilities behind Niagara Falls High School for an estimated $2.5 million, and spending $900,000 to install a new roof on Gaskill Preparatory School.
Granto said he wants the proposal to be submitted to the state this winter so the work can be done next summer.