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Despite capital project, SLC ready to open on Thursday

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BRASHER FALLS - It’s two steps forward and three steps back for St. Lawrence Central School’s current capital project, according to Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr.

But, he told board of education members last week, that shouldn’t prevent school from opening on time on Thursday. Staff members will be returning to school on Tuesday.

“We’ve been assured by the contractors. They understand the parameters clearly, I think, of what they need to do,” Mr. Vigliotti said.

District taxpayers in December 2011 had approved an $8.2 million capital project that would allow the district to convert from heating oil to natural gas once St. Lawrence Gas passed by the district during its expansion into Franklin County.

That will allow the district to make the conversion to natural gas and save money in the process. They also plan to convert from steam to hot water, which will also save money. The steam line and heating units date back to the 1950s.

Contracts were awarded in April to Meridian Construction Corporation for general work, Black River Plumbing, Heating & AC for Mechanical Work, S&L Electric, Inc. for electric work and Burns Brothers, Inc. for plumbing work.

As part of their work, contractors have removed ceiling tiles throughout the middle and high school hallways and classrooms, and some of those tiles may still be out when school begins.

“All the ceilings in the classes will be completed. There will be corridor ceilings not in place,” Mr. Vigliotti said.

Fred H. McLaughlin, director of transportation, buildings and grounds, said there may be a couple of rooms in the high school’s language area that will not have ceilings up by the time school begins.

But, he said, “We will have it clean. We’ve done it before. It’s not easy, but we’ve had tremendous help from summer youth (provided by St. Lawrence County).”

While the work continues on the project, Mr. McLaughlin said natural gas will not be available when school begins next month.

“They keep telling us it’s not far away,” he said.

However, he noted, they are set to go with hot water.

“We have a contingency for showers. We’ll have that in place for both buildings,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

Contractors are also still dealing with asbestos abatement in the elementary school basement, he said.

Mr. Vigliotti said that, because of lead and asbestos abatement, they have about $20,000 remaining for the project. He said he has met with representatives from Fiscal Advisors and SEI Design Group, the district’s architectural firm, to talk about those numbers.

“As it stands right now, we don’t have to cut anything,” he said. “There are a couple of opportunities to increase that $20,000 by not doing some things we had planned on getting done.”

A separate $375,000 project approved by voters in April to improve security at both the district’s buildings will also be partially completed when school opens, he said. Work began last week at the elementary school.

Once it’s completed, visitors to the schools will be able to enter the outside set of doors, but they’ll need to check in and present identification at a “transaction window” before they’re buzzed in by school personnel through the interior set of doors.

As part of the project, they are creating a transaction window between the two sets of doors at the high school and elementary school and a slot where visitors can provide their identification before entering the school. The entrance to the middle school will not be accessible during the day, and the entrance near the superintendent’s office in the high school is kept locked.

Doors have been moved back at the elementary school to accommodate the new configuration, according to Mr. McLaughlin, but he said the transaction window may not be done by Sept. 5. However, he noted the elementary school will be secure despite the lack of a window.

He said the school’s grounds will be policed this week to ensure they’re ready for opening day.

“Everything will be as safe as possible for our students,” he said.

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