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CHEEKTOWAGA SCHOOLS SEEK OPINIONS ON CONSTRUCTION

Cheektowaga Central School District officials are looking for a few good opinions.

Specifically, they want residents to tell them what they think about school building projects estimated to cost the owner of a typical home about $100 a year in school taxes.

Outside communications consultants will hold informal one-hour discussion groups throughout the day and evening Tuesday in the junior-senior high school on Union Road.

People who want to take part can call (800) 396-8376, extension 39, identify themselves as a resident of Cheektowaga Central and answer several questions so they can be in a group.

The discussion groups are off limits to school officials. Within two weeks, the consultants will present their general findings to the School Board, which is expected to decide at its Feb. 14 meeting which of two building options to put before voters this spring.

Cheektowaga Central is on the verge of its third major construction bond issue in six years. The project now on the drawing board is eligible for 60 percent state aid if approved before July 1, but only 50 percent after that.

Here is what would occur for about $22 million under the first option being studied:

Add a second floor to 1995-96 addition and expand the cafeteria and library at Union East Elementary School on the Union Road campus.

Build a 45,500-square-foot addition to the junior-senior high school to house a new middle school with a separate entrance, bus loop and gymnasium. The middle school and high schools would share the library media center, swimming pool and auditorium.

At the junior-senior high -- relocate and improve high school science rooms, add girls' locker room and new technology rooms, expand the cafeteria and kitchen serving area, build a new library media center, create a new music classroom and practice-room space and a fitness center, provide space for a television/media instructional program, increase parking and redesign traffic flows to serve the new middle school, enlarge maintenance storage building, and build restrooms and an improved concession area at the sports stadium.

The second option, estimated at $28 million, entails all of the first, except new cafeteria space at Union East. In addition:

The Pine Hill Primary Center on East Delavan Avenue would be closed, with the district's prekindergarten to second grade program moving to a new 33,700-square-foot addition at Union East.

Features of the new primary school addition would include 10 to 12 new classrooms for an expanded program; separate cafeteria, gymnasium, entrance, busing and offices; a shared library media center with Union East; and more parking and redesigned traffic flows.

Existing playgrounds and athletic fields would be relocated.

According to district calculations, the $22 million plan would increase the district tax rate about $1.20 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or about $90 more a year for the owner of a home assessed at $75,000. For the $28 million package, the same homeowner would pay an extra $1.50 per $1,000, or $112.50 more a year.

In 1994, district voters approved a $12.3 million bond issue to add 13 classrooms at Union East, replace 130 windows at the high school, remove asbestos at Pine Hill Primary Center and upgrade computer technology districtwide.

Enrollments leveled off this year, but officials say that without a major new building project, a resurgence of growth will worsen already serious problems at all three schools.

In addition, new state standards are forcing the district to expand academic programs and provide more space for technology, science laboratories, special education and related educational facilities, officials say.

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