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Public hearings set for school consolidation

    WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen school board viewed the proposed plans to close the middle school and build additions onto the main campus as part of a cost savings measure, Monday, Sept. 19.
    Superintendent Tom Phillips explained district residents would vote Tuesday, Dec. 13, on whether or not to allow the district to borrow money for the consolidation project.  The proposal came out of the district looking at improvements needed to the middle school, as well as district wide, and the decrease in the student population.
    Phillips said the cost of improvements and consolidation would be $24,662,190.  While the cost to just do improvement work on all three buildings would be $33,684,787.  Phillips added the savings over 16 years of moving the middle school students to the main campus would be $6,626,774.  He also said this does not include the possible sale of the middle school and any grants for improving efficiencies.  Phillips explained money from either of these two sources would go to offset what the district residents pay.
    Buildings and grounds Supervisor Mike DeNardo said the consolidation work would include adding seven new class room spaces to the main campus.  The library and cafeteria space would be increased.  Phillips said the work allows the district to modernize facilities and make operations more efficient.  Initial plans for the extra space needed at the main campus decreased from 36,000 square feet to the now proposed 19,500 square feet of additional space.
    Board member Gloria Brubaker asked what the district would do if several years for now there was an increase in the number of students.  DeNardo explained existing classrooms could be used by more than one teacher throughout the day because that does not happen now.  He added there is still that extra space from when the proposed addition sizes decreased.
    Phillips said that between now and the vote he would be getting as much information out to the public as possible.  There will be two public information sessions on the proposed project: Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m.  Both would be in the high school library.


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