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Niagara Wheatfield considers relocating administrative offices

SANBORN – The administration offices of the Niagara Wheatfield Central School District could be moving back to the old neighborhood.

More precisely, school officials are considering relocating the central business office back to the same parcel it occupied years ago as part of the upcoming capital project. But this time it will be in a different building.

Superintendent Daniel Ljiljanich said that as a cost-saving measure, the board is investigating the relocation of its administrative business offices from the district building on Schultz Street to vacant space at West Street Elementary School. He described the move as one of the “primary” parts of the project.

Students would still be in the school receiving classroom instruction while the administrative staff would occupy a wing in the back south section of West Street, according to the plan, he said. These same classrooms were ones the school district leased to the Orleans-Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Even with the business offices in West Street, the school still would have additional space for classes, if the need arose, Ljiljanich explained. “There’s plenty of space,” he said.

At one time, the district’s Sanborn Administration Building was on the same parcel at 5700 West St.

Due to a growth in student population from Wheatfield during a housing boom in the 1990s, officials decided a new elementary school was needed on that side of the district. The administration building was demolished and the school was built to open in 1999.

The administration offices were relocated to the Bergholtz School on Schultz Street, where they are now. While the former elementary school there was being readied, the offices took up leased space at the Summit Park Mall.

Ljiljanich said that while there is no specific timetable for the move, the relocation could be done as early as September “depending on how much space” has to be renovated for the office staff.

Once vacated, the building on Schultz Street would be put up for sale.

“We are making the move to save money,” the superintendent explained. Once it was realized that the district had space elsewhere, the School Board looked at selling the old school to eliminate the expenses of utilities, maintenance and even snow removal and lawn care.

Cutting any costs are a large part of the district strategy to deal with the impending state property tax cap, which is below zero, Ljiljanich said.

For Niagara Wheatfield, the tax rate for the next school year must be reduced by 3.5 percent. He said the major factor in the new calculation is because the consumer price index was zero for the first three quarters of 2015.

To bring in a tax rate any higher, the measure would have to pass by a super majority or 60 percent of voters in the public referendum this year.