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Retooling sites to learn Consolidation plan progresses in Falls

The Niagara Falls School Board's building-consolidation plan came one step closer to completion this week as maintenance workers began moving the Community Education Center out of the old 24th Street School and into the former 60th Street Elementary School.

The center's day care program for young children was moved to the 60th Street building last weekend and started at the new site Tuesday.

"By Monday or Tuesday, all our community education programs will have been relocated and will be up and running at 60th Street," said Lawrence W. Beyer, district operations and maintenance supervisor.

The 60th Street School sign on the front of the building has been removed and replaced with the title Community Education Center, Beyer said.

The 60th Street School was closed June 30 as part of a districtwide consolidation plan. It will be used to house community education programs.

That will allow the School Board to sell the 24th Street School building to the Niagara County Head Start program for $1, to house its preschool programs on the condition that Head Start pays for $300,000 worth of improvements on the building.

The move will give the district one less building to power, heat, cool and repair.

The final step in the board's building-consolidation plan is tentatively set to take place Jan. 15 when the district's administrative office, information services, maintenance and warehouse operations are expected to be moved into the former 66th Street Elementary School. That building also closed in June.

Most of the children who attended the 60th and 66th street schools have been moved to Cataract Elementary School, which was converted into an elementary school after serving the district as Niagara Middle School, which also closed at the end of the last school year.

The board expects to sell its office and annex buildings at Sixth Street and Walnut Avenue, along with its Sixth Street warehouse and Elmwood Avenue maintenance building, once those operations are up and running at the 66th Street facility.

Niagara County has offered the district $100,000 to buy the maintenance building.

State officials inspected the Community Education Center on Monday and cleared it to be used as a day care facility, Beyer said.

District Business Manager James J. Ingrasci said the district spent $516,000 to convert the two-story 60th Street facility into a community education site and make other improvements.

That included installing an elevator to help make the building handicapped-accessible and fixing up five day care classrooms to make sure they were safe and comfortable for very young children, Beyer said.

Beyer said the swimming pool, shower rooms and restrooms were modified to accommodate the handicapped. Also, he said, the district upgraded the security camera and fire alarm systems.

"Each door and hallway is monitored by security cameras," Beyer said, "and a buzz-in intercom entry system has been installed."

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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