Renovations to Glens Falls Middle School, lighting of sports fields possible if capital project is accepted

GLENS FALLS, NY (NEWS10) – Schools in the city of Glens Falls are divided into buildings that dot the city landscape. Some are older than others, and time comes with a list of repairs for any building eventually. But, in the district’s new capital project plan, it’s actually the newest building that needs the most work.

The vote will take place next Tuesday – December 14 – for the $32.1 million capital project, which includes plans for work in several buildings. Glens Falls Middle School, which was built in the 1980s, is where the list goes the longest.

“Our science rooms are outdated,” Glens Falls Superintendent Paul Jenkins said. “We have science tables in these collapsing rooms, so it’s not conducive, and there’s no hot water in there. So when they do certain experiments in college, in science classrooms, they are limited.

Because it was added to the existing high school building as recently as the 1980s, few upgrades have been made to the college. This has led to a list that includes much more than science rooms. Doors and windows must be replaced; some of the spare parts the windows would need can no longer be found. Meanwhile, moisture issues in flooring need to be addressed and a large group instruction room needs to be redesigned.

“It’s going to be renovated to be a bit more 21st century; unlike what it looks like now, which is your typical college lecture hall with seats in leveled rows,” Jenkins said. “Right now it’s not conducive to the way we operate in our buildings. We are more collaborative and we want movable, more adjustable furniture and different types of spaces for students to work in.

That’s not even the whole list for the college — which also needs sidewalks and curbs repaired, a main office and nurse’s office rebuilt, and lots of paint, among other things — but the College isn’t the only building to find work. The high school would also get its fair share of attention – such as new turf on the sports fields which have passed their intended 12 years of use, and an expanded fitness room. Replaced brick steps and corners, a new elevator, a refurbished tennis court and new water heaters are planned, as is floor repair in the auditorium lobby and music wing and of the building’s choir rooms.

Big Cross Elementary School would benefit from roofing work, a reduction and new equipment. Jackson Heights Elementary School would see new windows and roofing, kitchen equipment and a new digital sign.

For things like college offices and the windows of many buildings, safety and security is the letter of the law.

“We want to make sure our doors close properly and we can lock them. That our windows can open and we don’t have to hold them open,” Jenkins said.

The investment project is divided into two proposals. One encompasses all building renovations, and the other is specific to another element: the addition of lights to the school’s sports field. However, both propositions must pass for the lights to occur.

The lightweight project alone costs a maximum of $736,072. The entire $32.1 million project would in no way affect taxes for Glens Falls residents, thanks to state assistance that would cover 75.3% of the whole. The school also has more than $5 million in its own set aside funds and debt services from the budget.

“So the cost of the project – which we’re asking voters to approve – is $32.1 million, but generally what we see in every project is that we’re not on budget,” said Jenkins.

These projects are under budget because these budgets have contingencies – “what if” numbers in the event of things like finding asbestos or previously unknown water damage in a wall.

“It looks like a very high price, but if we don’t have some of these issues, we don’t spend it all.”

Jenkins also said architects bidding to work on capital projects like these take into account ongoing supply chain issues that have driven up prices for wood and steel. Just like the variable hazards provided by a budget, these chain issues can always change.

If the project is approved, it’s calendar time. Most of the work will have to be done in the summer, including anything that would cause part of the building to be closed. Anything that can be done during the school year will be work that will not impact the progress of classes. There’s no strict schedule beyond that yet, but one of the first things on that list will be tackling the turf on the sports field, which can be started as early as late spring.

The project is part of the school’s upcoming five-year plan, which means the district has reached the end of a previous capital project, which focused primarily on Glens Falls High School and some elementary schools. Superintendent Jenkins said that between the last two projects and the next to come, all major repair needs in the district will be addressed. Five years from now, the next proposed plan will hopefully be little more than a maintenance level.

The vote on the Glens Falls capital project will take place on December 14. More details can be found on the district’s website.

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