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East Aurora referendum on capital projects aims for December

A referendum on proposed capital improvement projects to improve schools in the East Aurora School District is being aimed for Dec. 9.

The board discussed the timeline of the project during Tuesday’s meeting.

Brian Kelley, president of the firm hired to design the proposed project, said if the board decides to move forward with a referendum Dec. 9, then some work could start as early as next summer.

“We’re hoping to get the roofs done next summer,” Kelley said, but noted that it does not have to be in the summer. Some of the work could overlap with the start of the school year with minimal disruption to students, he said.

He noted the last time the board held a referendum for a capital improvement project was in October and that it took 18 weeks to get approval from the state Education Department.

When Superintendent Brian D. Russ started discussing possible projects earlier this spring, his original timeline was to get a referendum to voters in September. However, he said he did not want to rush the decision and wanted to make sure the school board had enough time to consider the plans and be comfortable with them before placing the decision before voters.

Originally, the board was talking about holding the referendum sometime the week of Dec. 14, but the district has several holiday concerts scheduled that week.

Russ said the district could give parents literature during the concerts, but board members decided they did not want to either give literature out during concerts or schedule it on the same night as one.

“I oppose using student activities to influence voting,” board Vice President Daniel Brunson said, adding that he also did not want to “coerce” people into voting on the same night as functions they are attending.

Russ said he intends to discuss the scope and the costs associated with the project during the Aug. 11 meeting.

Some board members felt that since there is usually less attendance at school board meetings by the public during the summer, it was in the best interest of the district to discuss the project again during its Sept. 9 meeting. The board then tentatively scheduled a meeting for Sept. 23 as well to hold further discussions.