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With $25 million in proposed capital projects being planned, including the construction of a new East Side elementary school, the Niagara Falls School Board has hired a project manager and expects to hire an architect within the next two weeks.

The project list includes building a new, $10 million school to replace the 85-year-old Niagara Street School, adding a $6 million physical education facility and 5,000-seat arena to Niagara Falls High School and a variety of renovations and improvement projects at other district schools.

School Attorney Angelo Massaro said the board has hired Rollins Construction Management as project manager to oversee and coordinate all construction.

He said the company will be paid $650,000 if all the projects are approved. The board will only pay the company up to $80,000 through Dec. 31, and retains the right to void the agreement at that time, especially if voters turn down a public referendum vote to finance the proposals.

Superintendent Carmen Granto said he expects the board will ask voters to approve borrowing up to $25 million for the projects in a public referendum later this year. He said the state will reimburse 83 percent.

Granto said he plans to ask the board to hire an architect for the projects "within the next week or two."

District officials have interviewed more than a half-dozen architects for the projects and have narrowed the field to three.

Granto said he wanted the project manager, Steve Rollins, on board before deciding on an architect.

"I wanted the manager to check out the architects before I recommend one to the School Board," he said.

It appears the district will construct a new, state-of-the-art elementary school for 500 students somewhere in the Niagara Street area to replace the aging Niagara Street School. A district study showed renovating the school would cost $15 million, $5 million more than the estimated price of a new school. Granto said district officials are reviewing several possible sites for the new school.

Granto said he hopes the new school will be ready for students by September 2006.

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