New Capital Project In The Works
By Doug La Rocque
The Superintendent of the Berlin Central School District, Dr. Stephen Young, told those in attendance at the Tuesday, September 19 School Board meeting, that the district has hired both a Construction Manager and a Architect. This was to begin the process of putting together a Capital Improvement Project that would encompass the proposed new transportation facility, the Elementary and Junior-Senior High Schools, maintenance and grounds. There is no date for such a project to be put before the voters yet, nor is their a dollar amount attached to it. School Board President Frank Zwack did however, tell The Eastwick Press, “there will be no financial impact on the residents ” of the district. This he says is because New York State aid will pick up about 75% of the cost, and that the district has the remaining 25% in reserves. Dr. Young further elaborated on the project, saying ” within the next several months we will be meeting with the building administrators and focus groups to work with the architect to determine a list of things that need to be done in both buildings, the transportation facility and a list of items to prioritize.” He indicated there would be infrastructure and program changes within the two buildings, citing improvements made during the most recent capital project, and saying “now is the time to look at programing and space itself, how the best utilize the space we have and how to add space at a minimal cost.”
Both Elementary Principal Tracy Kent and Jr-Sr. High Principal Dr. Cathy Allain told the board the new school year got off to a good start. Ms. Kent said they had an assembly, where they were working with students to try to instill a sense of pride in their school. The session included Curriculum and Instruction Director Fred Hutchinson appearing dressed as the school’s mascot, “The Mountaineer.” Ms. Kent says the focus of the assembly was to introduce what they are using as their guiding principals this year in the Elementary School, ” that Mountaineers are are responsible, safe and respectful.” Jr-Sr. High Principal Dr. Allain said the implementation of the mid morning meeting, allowing to students to focus on projects that interest them, or maybe pick up breakfast is going very well. In fact, breakfast servings have more than doubled, but the number of lunches served is down. The time for the “MMM” as they are calling it, was created by eliminating homeroom and students going right to their first class at 7:11 am. The school also started out the year with a assembly where administrator’s focused on the theme “one team, one goal, no limits.”
The board’s legislative liaison, Jeff Paine, reported that the New York State Board of Regents has given its approval to a new student accountability program called “ESSA”, Every Student Succeeds Act. This new endeavor replaces the accountability standards from the previous “No Student Left Behind” program. It has been submitted to the U.S. Department of Education for approval. According to Mr. Paine, “ESSA ads testing in Social Studies and the Sciences along with English, Language Arts and Math.”
Building and Grounds Superintendent Cyril Grant said that after walking the Cross Country with the coach, athletic director and school administrators, his department has done everything within the scope of their abilities to repair the issues identified as safety concerns at the previous board meeting. Mr. Grant added that he is now attempting to consult with outside sources for more input on possible resolutions. He also talked about the recycling program at the Elementary School, and his research into acquiring and installing an electronic sign for the front of the Jr-Sr. High School. He also pointed out there are times his priorities may not match those of the school board and administration. “I also have to take care of matters that effect the health and safety of the Berlin Central School District students and staff.” Mr. Grant pointed out as an example, that in the past few days the air conditioning unit at the Jr-Sr. High School in the main server room has frozen up, the compressor on the walk-in cooler at the Elementary School has developed a leak and needs replacement, and of a very pressuring nature, there is a problem with the check value on the fuel line to the boiler at the Jr-Sr. High School. Because of this the lines will not hold pressure to the burner, meaning they won’t fire, something he points out might become a real problem in a few weeks when the weather turns colder. He identified these as “things that would pull my priorities off from some of things that are probably priorities by others.” There was no comment by the board. He also mentioned that the fire suppression system at the bus garage is no longer recognized by Underwriters Laboratory or manufactures standards. He said they have completed everything on the required inspection report, and is hopeful they will be able to obtain a temporary Certificate of Occupancy. This he says is a process that will have to be repeated on a regular basis, and noted the system has to be upgraded. He says it cannot wait until a new facility might be approved as part of the proposed Capital Improvement Project.
Other issues discussed where creating an area for student art to be displayed at the main entrance to the Jr-Sr. High School, the formation of a sports Booster Club as well as a five year plan for the Sports Program prepared by the new Athletic Director Josh Weaver, and the success some of the schools teams are having in the Wasaren League. In particular this applies to the Boy’s Soccer Team. The board opened the meeting with a presentation from Senior Class officers asking for permission for a Senior Trip to Virginia Beach on May 19th. 2018. So far, 30 students have registered. The trip would include visits to the Virginia Beach Aquarium and Busch Gardens. There are programs the students can participate in to help defray some of the expenses.