G’town school board gets down to upgrade details

GERMANTOWN—Progress on the Capital Project was the main topic of a January 27 special meeting of the Germantown Central School District the Board of Education.

District architect David Sammel reported that work completed in January included meetings with a theater consultant who will help in getting sightlines and acoustics right in the new auditorium.

“Estimates [on the auditorium] came in high, so we’ve been working to trim the price,” said Mr. Sammel, of Sammel Architects in Somers. For example, the cost of cooling was “a huge number. You have to increase power to the building for cooling, and if we can reduce that, we can save $200,000.”

With the auditorium committee, Mr. Sammel will be looking at LED lighting, which produces less heat, to keep the cost down. “If we can save $50,000 by spending $25,000, we’ll do it. We will keep the price on the auditorium the right price,” said Mr. Sammel.

Different layouts and configurations are still being considered for the auditorium, which is an addition to the school building. It has a provision for 300 seats and 100 retractable seats at the rear. These are folding upholstered bench seats that allow for a “multi-function” area at the back of the auditorium.

“They’re like gym bleachers with cushions,” said resident Martin Overington from the audience. Mr. Overington, who directs student theater productions, serves on the volunteer Auditorium Committee.

“We’ll have another sit-down with the Auditorium Committee in the next couple of weeks.” said Mr. Sammel.

He also described to the board the planned “secure vestibule.” The “reworked” office of the elementary school principal, plus an “underutilized” adjacent office would provide a security office. Visitors would check into a new secure entry complete with a seating area. “Visitors wouldn’t enter the school’s corridor system until they had been granted access to the building,” said Mr. Sammel.

This main entry would not be the access for an event like a basketball game, he said, or, if staffed, it could be one entry point.

In other “scaling back,” classroom sinks and countertops in good condition will remain, as will the bathrooms at the big gym, which are deemed to be “functioning fine”; all the things kitchen staff need have been taken care of “with a little bit less work”; extra toilets have been added to the locker rooms, and those plans are “pretty much done, with blessings from all users”; and the planned walking path, which ends at Mountain View Road just south of the school property, has been narrowed from six feet to three feet wide.

Borings were completed in January, and the report was good, said Mr. Sammel. “There’s no rock massing to six, seven and 12 feet deep. So there’s no problem for parking and sewer” construction. Of the 11 borings drilled, three pertain to a new sewer line that will be connected to the town’s sewer line.

The district cannot do construction work off its own property, said Mr. Sammel, and it needs to meet with the town administration to discuss paying the town for construction on a sewer expansion for the school.

Mr. Sammel and the board also discussed a clerk of the works position. “Most important is to have someone on site who watches the construction daily and has the foresight to plan two, four, six weeks ahead of time,” said the architect. The clerk checks deliveries, takes photos and lets the architect know if there’s a problem. From September to June, one person could do the job, Mr. Sammel said, but during summer, a more intense construction season, two or more people might be necessary, and hiring an agency might be the best idea, he said.

“We’ll help you write the request for proposals,” he said. “We know who the good people are, and who would be good for Germantown in particular. They’ll have a contract.”

Despite the State Education Department’s hiring two additional engineers to help review capital projects, the state review is still slow: eight to 12 weeks for an architectural project and 32 weeks for a project that entails engineering, as Germantown’s does.

Simpler parts of Germantown’s project could begin, said Mr. Sammel, but he added that starting ahead of state approval means “you’ll forfeit your building aid.”

A project timeline and “packaging” the project for different types of contractors will be part of his next report, Mr. Sammel concluded.

In other business, the board approved the 2016-17 Budget Calendar proposed by Ms. Brown. This begins with the next board meeting, Wednesday, February 10, at 6:30 p.m. when Ms. Brown presents the preliminary budget forecast and assumptions. It continues through two board meetings in March.

The board votes to adopt the budget on April 13, or April 22 at the latest. The adopted budget is made available to the public, and the budget Public Hearing takes place May 4. The district votes on the budget and board of education candidates May 17.

 

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