Niagara Gazette

December 17, 2013

Capital project discussed

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — What began as an emergency measure to address some deteriorating conditions of various facilities within Lewiston-Porter's middle and high schools will soon be a completed capital project.

School District Superintendent Christopher Roser said a final punch list is being developed to determine the completion of its $2.7 million project approved by voters in May 2012.

"We'll have our contractors and construction manager go around and make sure everything supposed to be done is done," he said. "It's to establish the project's finally completed. And it looks like we'll have a fair amount of money left over, about $800,000."

Originally proposed to make structural improvements to some particularly problematic areas, including the high school's roof and the pools in both buildings, the left over money is both a great indicator of performance and a blessing for other work the district needs done, Roser told the district's school board during its monthly meeting Tuesday.

It will be used to jumpstart some of the smaller aspects of the district's larger, $24 million project set to give the high school a facelift starting in 2015. Pieces of the puzzle, like a fix for an outdated public address and bell system at the high school, will come from this money instead of waiting for funding from the bigger project.

"The infrastructure is falling down around us," Roser said. "We can't get to our project fast enough."

The district will also look to purchase a backup generator for the middle school using the money, Roser said.

In other school board news, a settlement may be on the horizon in a lawsuit filed against the district by a former employee.

School Board President Michael Gentile didn't address the lawsuit specifically following an executive session Tuesday, but said the board did authorize Roser to sign a negotiated settlement prior to adjourning the meeting.

The Article 78 proceeding, a lawsuit against a public entity such as the district's school board, could be resolved soon, he said.

"We authorized the superintendent to enter into a confidential settlement concerning our current Article 78 lawsuit," Gentile said. "Whether this comes to fruition, we'll see. We've authorized him to sign it and we'll see where it goes from there. But because of its confidentiality, that's all I can say right now."

Finally, Roser and the board took a moment during the meeting to recognize the achievement of Ashli Dreher, who was named the 2014 New York State Teacher of the Year earlier this year.

Roser said he's been in education circles for 40 years and has never had an opportunity to be around one honored with the title.

Dreher, a special education teacher, accepted a token from the administration and spoke of a recent touching moment she had when she opened the printed program during a recent performance of "Alice in Wonderland" at the high school. She said she was moved by a dedication placed inside, honoring the efforts of one of her students who, despite being classified in special ed, performed on stage.

She also thanked her team of educators surrounding her and making her succeed, as well as the administration for its strong leadership.

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.