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Board OKs study of plans for high school

The Lockport School Board has approved paying a consulting team $6,500 to do a feasibility study on a proposal to significantly upgrade Lockport High School.

School Superintendent Terry Ann Carbone has proposed a wide-ranging plan that would bring the old school into the 21st century with the creation of a performing arts center, a special education floor over the technology wing and upgrading the technology wing.

In response, the School Board last week opted to do the feasibility study, hiring Habiterra Architectural and Landscape Architecture of Jamestown, and M&E Engineers and Baer & Associates Construction Consultants from the Buffalo area.

Thomas W. Fiegl, the board's Facilities Committee chairman, said he hoped the consultants would report their findings to the board by the first of the year.

Carbone said the firms will take a look at her proposal, talk to key people at the high school and tour the high school.

"Then the architect will take all these ideas, study the building and see if the project is feasible and [let us know] how much it will cost," she said.

Carbone said she hopes the consultants will report back sometime next month because the School Board needs to study the matter if the project is to be put up for a public referendum in the May 20 board elections and budget vote.

"Time is a big factor," Fiegl agreed.

"Our auditor said we are in good shape fiscally and should be looking at a capital project," he said. "It's a good time to do it, and Terry [Carbone] said, 'Why not?' We need to do this. The school and its auditorium are old and need work. We just got a grant for all this new fitness equipment and we need to develop a good health facility for our kids and to fight obesity. There are a lot of good reasons for it."

Fiegl said that with state aid, the improvements will cost the district "20 cents on the dollar."

"And," he said, "we have different expenditures in our budget that allow for this type of activity in a way that won't put any pressure on local taxpayers."

Fiegl said the board wants to work on it now so it can do everything it needs to do to get public and state Education Department approval in time to begin construction, if the board opts to do it, by the summer of 2009.

The board expects to be working on the proposal over the next three months, he said.


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