Almost five months after voters approved a $39 million capital project at Dryden Central School District, it appears as though work has yet to begin — just a few drones flying above the school grounds to study the roofs of otherwise quiet buildings.
However, Business Administrator Emily Shipe said the district is working with its architect to draft plans for the project and hopes to submit plans for the first phase to the state Education Department in the fall.
“When we get voter approval, we then sit down with the architects and the construction management firm and say this is the scope of work, now what exactly do we do to meet the scope, meet the needs of the district,” Shipe said.
The architect, Horseheads-based firm Hunt Engineers, Architects & Surveyors, is meeting with staff from the district’s buildings to get an idea of each building’s needs, particularly with regard to creating classrooms dedicated to science, technology, engineering, art and math.
That is one component of the capital project, approved by voters in March.
In addition to creating new classrooms, the project also will repair aging roofs, renovate the high school auditorium and music room, build a new bus garage and replace the track and athletic fields. The drones the architect flew above the buildings recently were taking pictures of the roofs to pinpoint areas in need of repair.
The timeline of work depends on when the state Education Department approves the plans, said Shipe, but the work will be done in three phases.
Phase I — Repair roofs and replace athletic fields, perhaps starting in the spring of 2018, lasting over that summer.
Phase II — Building a bus garage, the part of the project that will not disrupt any school activities since it will be a new structure off Mott Road. This phase could start as early as this fall, depending on state approval.
Phase III — Renovate the building interiors. Depending on state approval, construction could start in the summer of 2019, Shipe said.
Anthony Ghent, agency program aide with the state Education Department Office of Facilities Planning, said the timeline for state Education Department approval is impossible to speculate.
“When we get your final plans, we have maybe 500 to 750 people in the same situation as you at any given time, so it’s not that we are ignoring your request. It’s a big state and everybody comes through here,” Ghent said. “Your project is dealt with in the time, place and order as it comes in and when it’s your project’s turn, it gets reviewed and gets a building permit.”
The review of the project can be lengthy, too, because there is often a lot of back and forth between his department and architects and engineers, Ghent said.
Dryden’s capital project is being largely paid for by state aid and reserves and will cost a taxpayer without a STAR exemption about 2 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or about $2 on a house assessed for $100,000.
In considering the capital project, voters defeated a second proposition that have installed artificial turf fields and increased the taxpayer burden to 31 cents per $1,000 of assessed, or $31 on a $100,000 property.