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The Southwestern Central School Board has trimmed the costs for renovations to its middle and high schools, bringing the total cost of a districtwide building project to $31.5 million.

Of that, $10.9 million would go for improvements at the high school; $2.6 million for the middle school; and $963,000 to improve the bus garage. Another $17 million would go to build a new elementary school.

With 84 percent of the cost to be paid by state aid, the school district is expecting the local share to be picked up through a tax rate increase of 89 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

"Through this whole process we did not set any specific dollar target," said School Board Vice President Christopher Creighton.

"Obviously we are very sensitive to the impact, it will have on taxes. We believe this will come out in what we believe to be a very acceptable number, costing the average taxpayer somewhere around $60 to $70 per average household," he said.

Creighton said the project includes the right work for the future of the district.

"We have had tremendous community and staff involvement, looking at the scope of the work to be done," he said. "This includes a lot of work that needs to be done at the high school, and it will prepare these buildings for the next 30-plus years."

Southwestern High School was built in 1954.

Some issues still to be worked out in the overall project include an access road for the new elementary school.

A new road from the Wegmans Plaza parking lot was the first choice of the design committee, but even with help from Town of Ellicott Supervisor Patrick Tyler, School Superintendent Edmund Harvey said Wegmans has not been willing to negotiate.

Harvey also said the School Board is still working on the future of the old elementary buildings in Lakewood and Celoron.

"We want to do the right things with those buildings for the communities," he said. "Obviously, we will never make everyone happy, but we will discuss all options with the communities involved."

The School Board is expected to vote Sept. 8 on the capital-project resolution. At least two public meetings will be scheduled for this fall, with the project to go before voters in a Nov. 17 referendum.

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