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Completion of Franklinville Central School's special-education offices in the high school is seen as a priority as officials begin tying up the loose ends of a $14.5 million construction overhaul of the district.

Board members directed the spending of about $50,000 of the $64,000 remaining in the project's budget to remodel a former home economics suite, located on the west side of the building near the first-floor entrance.

Judy Chiariello now administers programs for more than 172 children out of a temporary office separated from the elementary school nurse's area.

Superintendent Richard M. Wachter argued against remodeling the current quarters to save costs because plans call for two administrators in each of the district's buildings in the coming years.

In addition, Chiariello's office will be converted into a prekindergarten classroom in 2001-02. Initial bidding has placed the cost of a large heating and ventilation unit at about $30,000, a number that the district's architect believes could be reduced to about $16,000 or less in negotiations with contractors. Another estimate of about $23,000 would pay for electrical work and demolition.

"(The contractor) knows if we don't award (the heating and ventilation bid) at his asking price we would have to send (documentation) to the state Education Department, wait 13 to 16 weeks, place a five-day advertisement for bids and then begin the work in mid- to late-July," said district architect Dick Gehring.

Gehring said additional work bid requests are often met with resistance from contractors who are eager to finish a job and move on to a new site. He and Clerk of the Works Fred Plummer agreed that some of the necessary work not covered in the estimates could be done by school maintenance staff. Wachter added that any extra costs could be paid from $12,000 left over in a maintenance surplus account.

Chiariello urged completion of the renovation of the high school because the home economics area "stands out as an unfinished piece of that beautiful area."

The board approved the request and then decided to spend the remaining funds on some alterations in the new agricultural wing to improve air quality. That work will necessitate installing a door, separating heat ducts and closing off wall openings that separate the shop from a classroom and computer station.

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