Valley Central School District officials recently learned the remaining projects included in the Energy, Abatement and Technology (EAT) bond project approved by voters in January 2015 will be delayed because of a backlog of projects awaiting state review.
Valley Central voters approved a $19 million capital project to fund improvements to all Valley Central schools, such as remediating asbestos and replacing boilers. In order for the district to receive state aid on the projects, the New York State Education Department (SED) must approve all plans after it conducts an architectural and engineering review.
Because there are 587 projects ahead of Valley Central awaiting review, the district does not anticipate SED approval until mid- to-late- May 2016–at the earliest. With the approval coming so late in the season, district officials are concerned about the cost-effectiveness of bidding out the work so close to the groundbreaking date.
Valley Central split its projects into phases, with phase one expected to be submitted for bids by early spring 2016, with groundbreaking in the summer. The district submitted those plans to SED on July 24. While SED has approved the architectural portion of the review, the engineering review is currently three to four months behind schedule due to an influx of projects across the state.
District architects are currently working on the submission of phase two plans, which include the middle school and high school improvements. In order to be as fiscally responsible as possible, the district plans to request bids for both phases as one package. The construction work is anticipated to begin in summer 2017.
“While we are disappointed in the delay of these projects, we are confident our decision to delay bidding until both phases can be combined will keep this project as cost-effective as possible with no impact to taxpayers,” Lisa Raymond, assistant superintendent of business, said. “We look forward to breaking ground on these important improvements.”
During summer 2015, the district completed the bleacher and press box portion of the overall project and also made upgrades to the sound system in the high school’s auditorium. Because this section of the project was the first to be submitted for review, it was not affected by the backlog.
“Our maintenance department worked diligently with the district’s contractor to ensure that the bleachers and press box were installed in time for the high school’s Homecoming game,” Ms. Raymond said.
Aside from the bleachers and press box, the improvements still to be completed include:
- Reconstruct exterior windows and walls with energy-efficient materials.
- Install new unit ventilators and air-handling units in classrooms, gyms and public areas to manage optimal heating and energy use.
- Replace boilers.
- Install new ceiling tiles.
- Install new floor tiles.
- Remediate asbestos.
- Install secure wireless networks in all district buildings.
- Optimize technology infrastructure, systems and equipment.
- Complete security video monitoring and access at building entrances.
Other districtwide health and safety renovations and repairs:
- Install emergency lighting in all schools.
- Renovate bathrooms and locker rooms.
Project updates will be posted on the website as they are available.