Niagara Falls High School is like home to Mark Laurrie.

And now the Falls schools superintendent intends to take care of the school like he would his home. 

The main building on the sprawling campus is approaching 20 years old and it's in need of some serious repair and refurbishing.

"It is a lot like a house" Laurrie said with a laugh. "And I intend to keep it up like I would my house."

Construction of the high school's main building began in 1999 and students arrived in September 2000. 

"It has been in use 240 days a year for 20 years," Laurrie said. "And it's an assert we need to keep in tip-top shape."

The former high school principal said school board members agreed with him and recognized the need to undertake significant repairs and rehabilitation work. The board unanimously authorized the $7.5 million project.

"We have the funding and we have the voter approval," Laurrie said.

School Board President Robert Restaino said Laurrie made a compelling case for the work.

"You can't neglect your home for two decades," Restaino said. "We had an opportunity to review the improvements to the high school and we think the community will be pleased with what we're doing."

Exterior work, including a roof replacement, new sidewalks and redesigned parking lots, will be performed by an outside contractor. Interior improvements will be done by the school district's maintenance team.

The new roof, which will cost $3.5 million, will not be a so-called complete tear-off. Rather, a new roof will be laid over the existing roof.

"It needs attention," Laurrie said. "The present roof, it's not that bad, but I want to get to it before it gets bad and has to be taken off and replaced."

Acting now on the roof repair, and avoiding a tear-off, will save the school district millions of dollars. 

Inside the building, crews will be upgrading the plumbing and HVAC systems. They will also paint the entire school in addition to cleaning every nook and cranny.

Laurrie said he expects the interior work will involved two shifts, five days a week, to complete the project before school starts in the fall.

"We're moving everything out, we've started already," he said. "And we'll take the entire 11-week summer recess."

Because of the work, Falls' students taking summer school classes will be sent out to the Niagara-Wheatfield School District campus in Lewiston.

"We'll bus them out to Niagara-Wheatield and (the school) is air conditioned," Laurrie said. "So (the students) are aware that this work is coming."

The school district's summer camps will be operated out of the field house on the high school campus.

As part of the project, the front entrance of the high school will be redesigned and parking lots and bus loop, in Laurrie's words, "will be shrunken."

"We will have more than enough space, when it's done, for our daily needs and (special events)," he said. "Right now we have more (parking lot space) than we need and we're not going to patch and fill (the lots) anymore."

In addition to the work at the high school, Laurrie said the flooring in all the classrooms at Gaskill Middle School and LaSalle Prep are being replaced. That work began this week.

Crews work during a second shift so students and classes are not disrupted.

"We're putting a lot of (local construction trades) people to work this summer," Laurrie said. "And that's an ancillary benefit. Those trades people are our parents."