Massena Central School Capital Project Reductions Planned for Future Projects | Education

MASSENA — Although phase three of Massena Central School District’s $49.6 million capital project has been cut due to cost, some items that were removed from the plan will likely find their way into future capital projects .

The district school board rejected bids for phase three work at a special meeting on Monday after they exceeded what was budgeted by more than $3 million.

The district had $8.6 million remaining for phase three work, but bids that opened Jan. 25 totaled $12.1 million. This figure does not include upgrades to the high school and middle school emergency notification system, which were already in the budget.

Phase three includes renovations to the high school and middle school to improve security and modernize spaces such as the auditorium and swimming pool. Work is expected to begin this summer and be largely complete in fall 2023.

Due to the cost, Edward Bernhauer, an architect with district architectural firm IBI Group, said proposed reductions included ceilings and tiles in hallways and classrooms at the college, swimming pool renovations, work in the high school auditorium, kitchen work in the high school, restoration of the floor of the gymnasium in the colleges and high schools and some electrical work in the college and high school.

District Operations Manager Greg Tessier said he would like to see any work removed from Phase Three included in future capital projects.

“We obviously had to scale down our project. The purpose of this project, one of the most important things, was to upgrade the infrastructure, which includes the mechanics,” Tessier said. “Hopefully the board will look to do another project right after this one.” All designs have been pre-designed for all high school and college upgrades, regardless of the remaining work for mechanics. So my suggestion is that we prioritize that for the next project.

Bernhauer said the items that were being removed from Phase Three “are not going away,” but are being added to the district’s five-year plan for planning future projects.

“So that feeds right into our next project planning process,” he said.

He said his company is also working with Mr. Tessier to identify work that could be done in future capital spending projects.

“It was part of the criteria looking at particular pieces that could be eliminated from space,” Bernhauer said.

Unlike a full-fledged capital project, funding for a capital expenditure project is authorized when voters approve the district’s annual budget. School board members budget $100,000 each year for capital expenditure projects, smaller maintenance projects that are allowed by state law without waiting for a larger capital project. The $100,000 allocated for the work must be used within the fiscal year of the project. Projects are also eligible for aid.

Board member Patricia Murphy asked if the district undertakes another capital project, what would be the timeline for full state funding.

“What we will do is we can come back to the board with more details once we have spoken with your financial advisers, your tax advisers. But the easy answer is to say five years because every five years the aid you receive from the state is renewed,” Bernhauer said. “You have a maximum amount of aid over a five-year period that you can get from the state. This refreshes every five years.

He said the district will not use all current-cycle state aid available for high school or college work on the construction project.

“So what is the exact amount we have left?” I do not know. That’s part of where I have to talk to tax advisers to see what’s available,” Bernhauer said. “If there’s enough available, you could potentially get out before those five years. But, at the latest, the longer term would be a five-year window.”

The project should again be submitted for the approval of voters.

“One of the cool things is that we already have so much design. You save on all the design time,” he said. “We still have to repackage, but it’s nowhere near as complex as the initial design.”

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