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Shatter-resistant window coating part of $40M Sweet Home schools project

A $40 million construction project that Sweet Home district voters will consider next month includes coating the windows at school entrances with a glaze that makes them more resistant to gunfire.

The Sweet Home School Board on Aug. 20 approved the proposed capital project that includes work at all seven school buildings in the district covering portions of the towns of Amherst and Tonawanda. District residents get the final say on Oct. 22.

The planned work, most of which traces to a 2015 assessment of Sweet Home's buildings, includes:

• Nearly $17 million in improvements to the district service center, which houses transportation, buildings and grounds and Sweet Home's central kitchen. The buildings haven't been updated since the 1970s, said Donald Feldmann, director of finance and plant services for the district. "It's in disrepair," he said. Work includes a new transportation bay for bus maintenance and making the buildings accessible to people with disabilities.

• New roofs at the Heritage Heights Elementary School and Dexter Terrace alternative school.

• Renovation of the middle school cafeteria and high school locker rooms and auditorium.

• Improvements to audio and public address systems at the four elementary school buildings.

The proposed project also features safety glazing of the windows at the main entrances to every district building, a step taken by some other districts. Sweet Home already has established single entry points for visitors at its buildings.

"If an intruder tried to come in and shoot out the glass, the glass wouldn't shatter. It would take several attempts for that glass to shatter," Feldmann said. "So it just adds an additional layer of protection in the event of an emergency situation such as that."

State aid would pay for about 58% of the cost of the project. District reserves and taxpayers would cover the rest. Officials expect the owner of an average home assessed at $150,000 would pay $12 to $14 annually over the life of the bond to cover the project's local share.

Construction would begin in spring 2021 and wrap up by September 2023.

The public vote on the project takes place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 22 in Sweet Home High School's Vergils Community Center, 1901 Sweet Home Road, Amherst.

The district is holding two informational meetings on the project. The first is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Sweet Home Middle School library and the second is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15 in the high school's community center.

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