January 21, 2022

DeRuyter schools seek advice on building plan

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

DeRuyter students walk Thursday between buildings in an area that district officials hope to better protect from vehicles as part of a capital project that is still being formulated.

Between now and Nov. 1, the DeRuyter Central School District is seeking public input on its proposed $8.95 million capital improvement project, slated for a vote in February.

The plan has three parts: basic upgrades to the buildings at a cost of $2.2 million, athletic field improvements at a cost of $2.4 million and an auditorium addition at a cost of $4.4 million.

It is not yet known how much the project would cost taxpayers, said DeRuyter Business Administrator Jim Southard, because the district is still waiting to hear from the state Education Department about what state aid may be available for the project.

Over the next few months, until Jan. 3, the Board of Education is going to finalize the scope of the project and decide what options will be put to the public for a vote in February.

A special referendum on the subject is expected to be held Feb. 28, with construction beginning in April 2019.

Southard explained that the building upgrades portion of the project, such as some roofing and water heating upgrades, were identified by a building condition survey that the state mandates be completed every five years. The other two portions — the addition of an auditorium and updating athletic fields — were added as a result of public feedback, he said.

“Those are basically two separate items that have been requested by people of the board members to look at, so basically we put them together to say ‘Here’s what the estimates are on these pieces and let us know what you think about the plan, let us know how we should proceed,’” Southard said.

The desire for an auditorium came from the public who have found the two biggest events every year — a musical in March and graduation at the end of the year — to be overcrowded and warm, said Southard.

“Our current auditorium is actually our small gym with temporary seating put in whenever there’s an event,” Southard said.

“It doesn’t have any climate control and doesn’t have any sides to the stage or proper staging. That’s what this would be, a proper auditorium facility, 600 seats.”

Southard said every year the musical is sold out and it would be nice to allow everyone who wants to attend to do so.

The costliest part of the project, upgrading the district’s athletic fields, would entail installing a track and improving drainage and the condition of the existing athletic fields.

Southard said kids currently run on the grass, just within painted lines, a situation he described as unique to DeRuyter.
The district does not have home track events, Southard said.

“There are quite a few schools that do have tracks, we are one of the small schools in the area and it hasn’t been a priority up to this point,” he said.