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Frontier board votes to remodel auditorium, buy two generators

Frontier school officials intend to move more quickly than expected on improving the high school auditorium while advancing plans for two emergency electrical generators.

The district has decided to include the emergency generator proposal with the auditorium upgrade in seeking funding from the state Education Department. A price tag on the items was not immediately available Tuesday, which irked some School Board members.

The board approved both undertakings in separate resolutions Tuesday but said they would be combined into a single plan when Young & Wright Architectural designs the work and submits the application to the state.

The board voted, 7-2, to replace at least 1,300 seats, install new flooring and improve handicapped access in the high school auditorium. Board members Janet MacGregor Plarr and Nancy Wood voted against the improvements.

But the proposal to purchase two 160-kilowatt generators won unanimous approval. The equipment, which would provide emergency power backup for the new boiler house addition at the high school, would produce electricity during power failures and at peak load times.

While the board has long recognized the need for new seats in the high school auditorium, as well as related upgrades, some board members questioned whether the work should be undertaken apart from the capital project expected to be submitted to district voters in May.

School officials said they expect funds left over from an $11.3 million capital project nearing completion could help pay for the auditorium improvements and the generators.

"I thought our first priority was to take care of the emergency generators, and then come back and see what we have left," Plarr said. "I don't think we have enough money for all of this."

Richard Binner, assistant superintendent of business, acknowledged that the seats will be the most expensive component of the auditorium work. The auditorium now has about 1,400 seats, but the number could be reduced to 1,300 to 1,350 to allow wider seats and to improve access for the handicapped.

The initial work would not include air-conditioning the auditorium, but that could be part of the capital project now being assembled.

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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