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CAPITAL PLANS EMPHASIZE NEW CONSTRUCTION

The Amherst Central School Board Tuesday reviewed some revised capital project options that emphasize new construction over rehabilitation of existing facilities at three of the district's four schools.

Mark A. Whyle, director of administrative services, said the most economical option for a new library-media center and additional classroom space at the high school appears to be a $2.1 million three-floor addition at the rear of the school. The plan omits major rehabilitation work that would have brought the project's tab to more than $10 million.

The 19,500 square-foot addition would include a 5,000 square-foot library on the ground floor, with science and possibly art rooms on the second and third floors. Trustees want to replace the existing second-floor library because of its small size, awkward configuration and a design considered incompatible with modern instruction and technology.

Whyle said the revisions also omit earlier proposals to add modified gymnasium space at both Windermere Boulevard and Smallwood Drive Elementary Schools and propose a ground-floor classroom addition at Windermere that would be less costly than a second-floor plan.

The new drawing places additional classrooms on the north side of the building, rather than atop the second floor of an addition made two years ago. Four to eight classrooms could be added on the first floor at an estimated cost of $400,000 to $800,000; the second-floor addition would yield 11 classrooms at an estimated $1 million.

The district's capital projects group recommended four to eight new classrooms at Windermere in a report issued earlier this year. And Superintendent Dennis D. Ford commented that there are no projections showing a need for 11 more classrooms at Windermere.

Whyle also reviewed proposals for 3,500 square-foot kitchens at Windermere and Smallwood that would delay rehabilitation of the existing Windermere kitchen. The cost of a new kitchen and equipment at Windermere is estimated at $569,000; a new kitchen at Smallwood and conversion of the existing facility for additional cafeteria space is estimated at $690,000.

"All cost estimates are generous at this point," said Whyle, adding that the kitchens may not be as large as now indicated.

The presentation of the kitchen projects prompted trustees to question the possibility of creating a central kitchen that would prepare food for delivery to the other schools. Trustee Susan S. Domkowski asked about the feasibility of contracting with a corporation to provide the food service.

Ford said he would look into establishing a central kitchen, but noted that he has reservations about abandoning the cafeteria program and "losing the touch that comes with that connectedness to school."

He said trustees will receive a capital projects update at each meeting. At the Oct. 21 session, Whyle is expected to provide the board with information on the level of state aid that the district would receive for the projects.

Ford said he thinks trustees should place a bond issue before voters in May when the district presents its 1998-99 budget proposition. "I think voters should see it all in one picture," he said. "I don't want to do it in dribs and drabs and have people think we're trying to manipulate them."

A bond issue that would cover the $3.8 million to $4.2 million construction options presented Tuesday is not expected to affect the district's plan to deliver a zero percent tax increase for next year. The district is retiring another $4.2 million debt this year.

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