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Board says WACS upgrades could exceed $3 million

February 20, 2014
By David Prenatt - Correspondent , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

The cost of basic upgrades to Westfield Academy and Central School exceeds $3 million, board of education members learned last Monday, Feb.

David Walter, senior vice-president of the architectural design firm Clark, Patterson and Lee, gave the board an overview of recommended projects throughout the school facilities. Some of these projects are required to meet code standards while others are upgrades, improvements or restorations. The total base project costs would be $3,406,650 Walter said.

One project would involve converting an area to be an ADA-compliant space for alternative education. The $102,000 project would create a facility of about 1,100 square feet with its own entrance on the side of the building. New plumbing and wiring would account for most of the cost, he said.

Other projects include work on the roof systems, repairs to the bus garage and parking areas, restoration on the main building, renovations of the bathrooms and upgrading technology, Walter said.

Additional projects outside of the base projects total an additional $1.7 million, Walters said. They include new floor tiles in the hallways, a reconstructed parking lot, new press box and bleachers, and an all-weather track surface.

Walter said the implementation of the projects would involve the superintendent, the finance manager, members of the board and the engineering staff.

In other business, district superintendent David Davison said the school had received a $90,000 Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness grant. Up to $17,000 can be used for technology; $10,000 for supplies; and $10,000 for workshops, he said. "This will allow us to do some really great things," he said.

Davison also told the board he attended a strategic planning meeting with the mayor and town council members regarding potential events in Westfield.

Davison also said he attended a school safety summit in Brocton. Although the event focused on all of the issues regarding school safely, "a lot of the conversation drifted to: 'We need money,'" he told the board.

In another matter, board president Jeff Greabell reported on the Chautauqua County School Board Association meeting. He noted that out of $45,235,000 of state aid promised for county schools from 2007 to 2014, only $37,471,000 has actually been received.

Greabell attributed this discrepancy to the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which has frozen Foundation Aid funds since 2009. At the same time, aid to schools statewide has been reduced by 1.5 billion. Additionally, he said, the funding gap between wealthier districts with large tax bases and smaller, rural schools has been widening.

This is the fifth consecutive year in which the state has deducted from each district's state aid in order to help fill the state's revenue shortfall. This reduction in funds, along with the tax property cap which limits districts ability to raise revenue and unfunded state mandates have created an untenable situation for New York's smaller school districts.



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