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Watkins sets consolidation public hearings

    WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen Central School District is proposing consolidating the district by closing the middle school.
    District residents will vote Tuesday, Dec. 13, on whether or not to allow the district to borrow money for the consolidation project.  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 will be in the high school library.
    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.  Superintendent Tom 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.
    If approved, the main campus school will need to be expanded by 19,500 square feet to accommodate the middle school students.  Phillips said the high school library would be expanded.  The district offices would be turned into classrooms and the offices in turn would be moved to the northwest corner of the library.  He added the old swimming pool would be turned into another gymnasium.  
Buildings and grounds Supervisor Mike DeNardo previously explained the consolidation work would include adding seven new class room spaces to the main campus.  Phillips said three rooms specifically would be added to the academic wing.
    The campus buildings would not be the only thing to change in a consolidation.  Phillips said the elementary, middle, and high school schedules would be adjusted to all start at the same time.  Grades seven to 12 would be housed in the high school portion of the campus and kindergarten to six in the elementary.  The middle school building currently houses grades five to eight.  Phillips said after consolidation, middle school would be grades seven to nine.
    In addition to consolidation work, the district is also looking to do building repairs.  Philips explained if residents voted down the project (which is both consolidation and improvements), the district would have to incorporate just the renovation work into the current budget because it needs to be done.  Phillips explained the district would then need to look at cost reductions in other areas because they would no longer have the 90 percent building aid from doing a consolidation project.
    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.




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