By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
---- — BEEKMANTOWN — Beekmantown Central School recently saw the substantial completion of its $6.6 million capital project.
Funded primarily by state aid and an EXCEL grant, the work approved by residents in 2008 included health, safety and energy improvements.
Initial work included extensive roofing, asbestos abatement and mechanical-system upgrades in both the K-through-12 building on Route 22 and Cumberland Head Elementary School, as well as the installation of a new emergency generator in the K-through-12 building.
The new generator replaced a smaller unit, which was relocated to Cumberland Head, providing both buildings the capability of remaining operational in the event of a power outage, according to Garrett Hamlin of Tetra Tech, the international architectural firm in charge of the project.
$1 MILLION SURPLUS
Due to great fiscal management by the district and the architect, noted Beekmantown Central Superintendent Daniel Mannix, BCSD had about $1 million of project funds remaining after completion and consulted its five-year capital facilities plan to determine how to spend the remaining money.
The School Board and administrators, he said, decided to initiate a second phase to address the highest-priority items on the facilities plan.
“That’ll be a big help to the district in maintaining their facilities,” Hamlin said.
Phase 2, substantially completed just before classes began this fall, included additional asbestos abatement at both the K-through-12 building and Cumberland Head Elementary.
Over the summer, Cumberland Head School also received a fuel tank upgrade, safety improvements, a new grease trap in the kitchen and air conditioning in the server closet.
And on the main educational campus, summer vacation was used to replace doors, install new lighting and improve heat flow and ventilation in classrooms and install required secondary exits in locker rooms.
Structural repairs were also made to a wall in Beekmantown Elementary’s all-purpose room.
Although the wall wasn’t an immediate danger to anyone, Hamlin said, “it was a potential future safety issue.”
In addition, over Columbus Day weekend, upgrades to electrical panels at Cumberland Head Elementary were scheduled, and plans included shutting down the water system in the K-through-12 building to install new chlorinated water tanks.
Beekmantown Central students had a half day of school on Friday, all Monday off for the holiday, and there will be no school on Tuesday for a staff professional development day.
That event was rescheduled from a date in June to allow teachers more time at the beginning of the year to work with the new state-mandated Common Core Curriculum.
Once these final elements of Phase 2 are complete, Mannix noted, the district can finalize the project’s financial records and determine how much funding remains for additional capital improvements.
The plan, he said, is to use the remaining money to convert BCSD’s technology infrastructure to one with wireless Internet capabilities.
While the first priority is that every classroom has wireless technology, Mannix continued, ideally, the entire school community, including the sports fields and transportation garage, could be converted.
In addition to facilitating the computerized testing that the state is moving toward, the superintendent added, having wireless learning facilities would drive instruction in a new direction, creating a wealth of opportunities for students and teachers.
“It really moves us into the 21st century,” he said.
The district is also currently in talks with New York State Electric and Gas about the possibility of running natural gas lines to both Cumberland Head Elementary and the main educational campus to cut down on energy costs.
However, Mannix noted, before the School Board can make an informed decision about switching to gas, it needs more information about the costs and timelines associated with such an endeavor.
“We’re working with NYSEG, both in the Town of Beekmantown and in the Town of Plattsburgh ... to finalize what our costs would be,” he said.
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