By Samuel Glasser
The first set of plans for the Herricks school district’s $29.5 million capital improvement initiative was recently submitted to the state Education Department, putting the first phase of the project on track to possibly begin construction in the fall of 2017, the project’s architect said last Thursday.
All schedules for the project allowed six months for Education Departmet reviews, although the architects requested an expedited review for the first phase of the project, Roger Smith, a principal for the Patchogue-based firm BBS Architecture, told the Herricks school board on Thursday.
“We are two and a half months into designing,” Smith said. In a few months, he said, the construction manager will have a firmer schedule for the projects.
The first phase involves laying new artificial turf on the high school athletic field and the installation of new doors and locks throughout the district’s buildings.
The district’s plan calls for construction of the new field to begin in the fall. During the discussion, school board members said that only two home football games are scheduled for next season and the later game might be moved to a different location.
Smith said his firm is working to submit by June the plans for phase two, which includes the reconstruction of the high school cafeteria and new infrastructure for the high school athletic field.
The district hopes for construction to take place in the summer of 2018 with the cafeteria ready by the start of school that fall, Smith said.
Lisa Rutkoske, the assistant superintendent for business, said that after the state approves the plans, the job has to be put out to bid, a process that usually takes at least four weeks.
The school board also continued its series of public budget presentations on Thursday.
Health insurance costs are up 12 percent, the increase in state aid is zero and the tax increase is held to less than 2 percent in the “tight” budget, district Superintendent Fino Celano said.
“We can keep programs, but we can’t expand them,” he said.
Celano said the budget is still a draft, although the presentation showed that the basics are unchanged from earlier estimates.
Spending is proposed at $111.2 million, up 0.82 percent over the current year. The proposed tax levy will increase by 1.62 percent over the current year, the maximum allowable increase for Herricks under the state-imposed cap on tax hikes.
The outlook for state aid, which makes up about 10 percent of district revenue, is still expected to be essentially unchanged, although the final amount will be seen when the state budget is finalized. That budget is due on April 1.