By John BernhardtThere’s an old joke that asks, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer: “One bite at a time.”
The joke reminds us of major challenges we face in life. Viewed from a global perspective, some issues seem so large they are hopeless. Yet, goals can become achievable if you break them down into little steps. That’s the philosophy the Andes Central School Board of Education has adopted toward keeping pace with the infrastructure needs of our school.
Two years ago, the Board of Education hired an architectural firm to complete a Five Year Building Condition Survey. The survey is a legal requirement designed to help districts gauge the health of their facilities and plan for needed renovations and updates. As you would expect, a building constructed in 1937 with no major capital projects improving infrastructure, would unveil major issues. That was the case for our district.
Viewed in its entirety, the survey was daunting; overwhelming in fact. Your Board rolled up their sleeves and went to work. The result of their deliberations was a long term plan to use District reserves to tackle small manageable capital projects addressing many of the issues that were raised. Everyone understands that water damage is no fun at all. A leaky roof, broken pipes, a flooding basement, can cause major damage in our homes. Small amounts of water leakage accumulated over time can result in major repairs. The same principle holds true for school facilities.
With that in mind, the Board’s first phase of repairs targeted water damage as Public Enemy Number One. Over the last five years, the District has replaced the flat roofs on the northern and southern ends of the main building. This fall, we replaced the roof over the bus garage. In addition, we installed a modern pumping system in the boiler room and worked to plug steam and radiator leaks around the building. More work containing water damage needs to be done.
Security issues have also been high on the Board of Education’s list. Door replacements at three entranceways have been approved, with the installation scheduled for the February break. Swipe card security systems will also be installed at that time.
With security still on their minds, the Board will be asking District voters to replace our public address and clock systems. Our current system is the original (70 years old) and badly outdated. At present, announcements made from the Main Office are not received in critical locations including the locker rooms, boiler room, outdoor playing fields, the Little Red School House, the bus garage, and the Early Learning Center. It is difficult to understand announcements heard in other locations. Our antiquated system lacks call-in switches that allow teachers to signal the Main Office in the case of an emergency.
Our number one responsibility is the security of our children. Student safety is compromised when communication is limited. Updating our public address system is critical.
The capital project will provide a new public address system with “call-in” switches. All current speakers and wiring will be replaced. Horn-type speakers will be located on the exterior of the building and within the boiler room. The project will include an extension that will incorporate the Early Learning Center and Bus Garage as part of our communication system.
Like all renovations, an updated public address system doesn’t come without a cost. An outline of cost estimates is included below:
1. School Public Address System $60,000
2. Additions $ 1,250
* CD/Cassette Player
* Digital Tuner with remote control
3. Bus Garage Public Address System $26,250
4. School Wireless Clock System $13,500
5. Bus Garage Wireless Clock System $ 8,000
Our ‘experience factor’ with price estimates for capital projects is not good. Several times in recent years, actual bid amounts have surpassed cost estimate totals for approved projects. For that reason, we are asking District voters to approve a project not to surpass $130,000.
In reality, we do not expect the project to reach $130,000. That total includes cost estimates with 20 percent overhead. Based on our ‘experience factor,’ we increased that amount by $21,000 to provide a buffer to address unanticipated issues that might arise.
The project will be funded using EXCEL aid and local reserves. New taxes will not be required to support the project. EXCEL aid is special building aid provided by New York State for school renovations. Our allotment of $40,000 has been approved by the State Education Department for these purposes.
The District will ask voters to approve the project in a special vote to be held on Tuesday, February 12th, 2008. Voting will be held in the Industrial Technology Room of the Bus Garage between noon and 8 pm. A special meeting to explain the project will be held in the Distance Learning room in the Main Building at 7 pm. on Tuesday, February 5th.~