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Potsdam growing frustrated with state education department delay of capital project approval

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POTSDAM — It’s been more than 20 weeks since the Potsdam Central School District submitted Phase II of its capital project to the state education department for approval, and they are still waiting for its nearly six months later.

“They’ve had it for 22 weeks now,” said Buildings and Grounds Committee Chairman Wade A. Davis. “This is starting to cost the Potsdam taxpayers money.”

“Contractors right now are lining up their spring and summer work,” he said.

Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said he addressed the delay with state education officials when he was in Albany last week, and was told that approval was still more than a month away.

“At this point we’re still four weeks out,” he said. “Then it’s going to come down to are the local contractors still going to need work?” he said.

Mr. Brady also said that he wasn’t the only superintendent voicing frustrations over the amount of time it is taking the state to approve projects.

“When I was in Albany this was a common refrain from district superintendents,” he said.

Board of education member Frederick C. Stone asked about putting the project out to bid pending SED approval.

“That way we can get it out on the streets,” he said, adding the bid opening would then be held after approval was received.

Mr. Brady said the district has asked its engineering firm, SEI Design Group, if that was something they could do, but has yet to hear back on an OK.

Phase II of the project is scheduled to include work at buildings across the district that has been estimated at just more than $13 million.

Highlights of that work at the high school includes lighting upgrades, ceiling replacement, emergency lighting installation and, if necessary, asbestos abatement. The major part of the project is converting the original building from a steam heating system to a hot water system. Masonry repairs also will be made to the outside of the building, which also will undergo a face-lift.

Work at the middle school will include lighting and electrical upgrades, as well as ceiling replacement.

Other improvements include upgrading the building’s locks and kitchen, replacing the ventilation system door and repaving the building’s sidewalks and parking lots.

The repaving also will include work at the bus garage, which is adjacent to the middle school.

At the elementary school, work is scheduled to include upgrades to lighting and the kitchen, replacement to the ceiling, repairs to the rear sidewalk, installation of security cameras, renovations to the playground, additional renovations to the crawl space and the reconfiguration of office space.

Work also will include the removal of old carpets, which will be replaced with vinyl flooring, and the removal of asbestos flooring.

District-wide work is scheduled to include a new fire alarm system, as well as secure entrances for each of the buildings and other security upgrades.

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