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Watkins group recommends consolidation

WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen school subcommittee recommended that the board of education consolidate the middle school into the 12th Street campus, at the monthly workshop meeting, Monday, March 21.
The subcommittee started meeting in November of last year. It included members of the community and was led by Superintendent Tom Phillips and Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Mike DeNardo. The group was charged with looking at the district possibly consolidating and closing the middle school. Watkins tied this study into the five year building condition survey the state requires each district to do.
Subcommittee member John Terry said it would save the district money over the years not to use the middle school anymore. He said according to the building survey, between $19 million to $25 million worth of work is needed across the district. Of that, $6 million is at the middle school. Terry added enrollment is also down. He said currently there are 1,169 students enrolled. In 1980, there were 1,693. He added that number is only expected to go down.
The district will be making repairs and upgrades to the buildings regardless if the district consolidates or not. Phillips said the preliminary costs for upgrading the middle school are the same as making additions to the 12th Street campus for consolidation. He added the state is offering money for schools to implement cost containment measures.
“We would like you to move forward with this project,” committee member Ann Tuttle said. She added the group agreed unanimously about consolidation.
Phillips said the next step is for the district’s facilities committee, which is made up of four of the school board members, to meet. He said they would then present their recommendation to the whole board for a vote. Board member Gloria Brubaker said the committee can meet within the next month and be ready for the April 11 school board meeting.
DeNardo said if the board approved consolidation, the district would work to finalize plans and have a proposal ready for district residents to vote on in December. He added that if approved, the district could start construction in the spring of 2013 and be completed in September of 2014.




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