Niagara Gazette

February 19, 2013

School board gets positive update on high school's portion of $26M capital plan

by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — Planning for a $26 million capital improvement project at Lewiston-Porter is coming along on time and on budget, according to district officials.

Gordon Jones Associates architect Steve DiMatteo presented an update about the progress designing work at the high school to the district's school board Tuesday. He said the project, if it's approved by voters in May, will make a drastic change to the layout of much of the school, including in the athletic complex area.

It's there where officials are hoping to get the go-ahead to build new locker rooms and an eight-lane swimming pool, the most ambitious of all the project's proposed changes.

"There's going to be an addition for an eight-lane pool, which will bring the grade down," he said. "And there'll be direct access from the locker rooms to the pool and gym area, which there isn't right now. The girls lockers are on the second floor, even, so they have to go downstairs to get to the gym."

Though much of the high school portion of the money will go to upgrading the athletic area, another change officials are proposing for the project would affect where some students go for science class.

Two science rooms on the first floor would be moved to join the rest of the math and science wing on the third floor of the building, according to DiMatteo.

"We'd have to redesign the rooms (on the third floor) to do this," he said.

The final major change officials are proposing in this project would create a new entryway Superintendent Christopher Roser said would be two floors high. It'll be built where the high school's senior lounge is currently located, an area of the building often questioned as a hallway to nowhere as it has limited access on the second floor and serves little purpose aside from hosting the twelfth grade students.

The project would build a new staircase between the first and second floors, which could open up the hallway and give it a new role in the building, Roser said.

"It makes that a real hallway," he said. "It'll help disperse the flow of traffic there, cause right now, it's considered a bit of a hallway to nowhere. But putting a set of stairs there addresses that."

Figuring out what work is needed, where to build improvements and how often to address issues isn't just guess work. Each school district is required by state law to perform building conditions surveys every five years, which is used to determine state aid formulas as well as provide priority for improvements.

Lew-Port is operating off its most recent survey, completed by Gordon Jones Associates in 2010, to determine what needs attention and what doesn't require immediate work.

A lot of the work the project addresses isn't as noticeable as new pools, locker rooms or entrance ways. Roser said much of the work officials are planning will address things people can't see. Heating, air conditioning, windows, doors and furniture will also need work.

"We're addressing many things you're not even seeing," Roser told the board.

Plans are also expected to include a new bus loop along the district's access road in front of the high school.

DiMatteo is expected to present similar updates about work proposed at other schools at a future meeting.