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Dunkirk School Board members Wednesday discussed the defeat of the $22.6 million bond referendum for the reconfiguration and modernization of elementary facilities.

The proposition, defeated Tuesday by a vote of 1,096-936, would have consolidated kindergarten through second grade in School Seven on Lake Shore Drive East, and grades 3 to 5 in School Three on Route 60. School Four on Central Avenue and School Five on Brigham Road would have been closed.

District officials still will have to tackle problems with the elementary schools. The district had been cited by the Fire Department for conducting classes for pupils in the hallways and stairwells.

"We need direction from Superintendent Carl Militello on how to alleviate problems (linked to) the citation from the Fire Department. We also need options with a plan of attack for our problems," said board President Robert Barlette.

"We also need long-term plans. We cannot have another referendum until next March," he added.

Trustee Nancy Renckens said she favors the creation of a citizens advisory group.

Barlette pointed to public skepticism on several fronts, including the breadth of state-mandated renovation work that will be required to bring the four buildings up to code.

He also pointed to recent confusion about the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with NRG, the owner of the electric generating station, as well as the issues of neighborhood schools and teachers' salaries.

Renckens also said residents were concerned about having vacant buildings, noting the Administration Building on Lake Shore Drive East is still vacant.

Officials said that although there was outside interest in two elementary schools, nothing could be consummated until voters gave the green light to the project.

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