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Indian River board to mull enlarged parking lot

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EVANS MILLS — A proposal to increase the school bus parking area at the Indian River intermediate school to improve safety for the growing number of students has some members of the Board of Education concerned about the heavy price tag.

At the board meeting Dec. 20 at Evans Mills Primary School, Business Manager James R. Koch suggested the board set aside $360,000 in the 2013-14 budget to increase the intermediate school’s bus loop for student safety. The six additional parking spaces in the design are meant to address the hundreds of new students that the district, now with an enrollment of 4,262, expects over the next year from housing projects in the works around Fort Drum.

The total proposed buildings and grounds budget is $595,688.60.

“This is a very big project,” Mr. Koch said. “The truth is that most of this wouldn’t be aidable in a capital project.”

He said a new parking lot is eligible for state aid, while building onto a lot is not.

Some of the board members were not enthusiastic about the pricey addition.

“Since we built that building, this is the third time we’ve done that parking lot,” board member Donald L. Brumfield said. “I want to look at the big picture. There becomes a limit to how big we can build these buildings.”

With the increase in students, however, the number of buses picking them up would have to increase. Without the project, Mr. Koch said, buses would have to be “nose to tail,” rather than staggered as they are now, to fit in the intermediate school bus loop.

“The central area across is where people should be walking,” he said. “What happens is kids will walk between the buses. If the transmission gives, you’ve got a kid caught between a bus and another bus. I hate nose to tail.”

Board President Frank J. Laverghetta said the item should be added to a future meeting agenda to be discussed further.

“I think we need to think about it,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to cost this much.”

Also discussed at the board meeting was the transportation budget. Mr. Koch proposed a $1,667,600 budget for 16 72-passenger buses and recommended increasing the bus fleet to 106 vehicles.

He also is evaluating a wireless camera system to replace the cameras and allow building principals to download recordings from remote locations after an incident is reported.

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