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A look inside Greenport School as district prepares Capital Improvement Plan

03/22/2019 6:00 AM |

1,600 cracked floor tiles.

That’s a portion of what the Greenport Union Free School District’s proposed $27.1 million bond project, or Capital Improvement Plan, would fix. The project, first proposed last February, would transform and refurbish multiple parts of the school.

Three options are currently in play for the project. A second option would eliminate funding for a turf field and lower the bond cost to $24.9 million. A third option would also eliminate field repairs and tennis court repairs and cost $22.2 million.

The Suffolk Times conducted a guided building walk-through with Superintendent David Gamberg and maintenance mechanic Charles Mosher to review the physical parts of the school that require updates.

At previous school board meetings, some community members criticized the district for not being explicit enough on where the bond money would go. The plan would raise the tax levy a minimum of roughly $410 for the average Greenport homeowner, based on the third option of $22.2 million.

The majority of the money for the project will be generated by bond sales. An additional $25,000 will be appropriated from the Capital Reserve Fund.

The funding for the project is divided into four main categories: security upgrades which total roughly $5.5 million, educational and administrative upgrades which total roughly $2.7 million, community and athletics at roughly $8.3 million, and infrastructure and building preservation which comes to $13.2 million.

Because specific estimates haven’t been determined by architectural firm Tetra Tech Engineers, some of the estimated prices of the modifications are not present.

Mr. Gamberg said the expansions are more than just physical changes — most classrooms and administrative offices will be shifted to accommodate new additions.

The bonding proposal and the use of reserve funds would need to be approved separately by voters on individual ballot items to be presented, respectively, in May and June.

Every five years, the district completes a building condition survey where architects identify parts of the building which are suggested to be renovated. Mr. Gamberg said the majority of the school budget goes directly to faculty and staff salaries, which doesn’t give the district leeway to make necessary changes present in the plan.

“There’s been a number of years where that BCS hasn’t materialized into project work. … There’s not enough money in that budget to address the millions of dollars in need,” he said.

Mr. Gamberg said if the project is approved, most of the building modifications would be completed in phases over summer months. There’s no way to ensure the plan won’t require future updates, he said, but the plan is long overdue.

“We’re going to do everything we can to insure we address the issues not just temporarily but in a permanent way for years to come,” he said.

AIR VENTILATION

At this time, the district is running on a ventilation system and power panels constructed in 1971. The plan would put in a new ventilation system, replace the panels, add panels for increased computer use in the district, and add a new 110-kilowatt generator to power the district’s boiler, freezers, telephone and main computer servers.

A previous presentation from district officials said the current air ventilation in the district does not meet state requirements.

CAFETERIA/GYM

The district’s only cafeteria is used as a gymnasium, Mr. Gamberg said. Typically, wrestling mats are placed in the corner of the cafeteria during lunch periods. When the space is used as a gym, dining tables are pushed into the hallway — creating a potential fire hazard, the superintendent said.

A new auxiliary gym would be constructed and attached to the north side of the property if the plan is approved by voters in June.

However, a separate gymnasium in the back section of the building, constructed in 1972, would not see upgrades, Mr. Gamberg said.

“That’s more of a ‘want’ than a ‘need,’ ” Mr. Gamberg said.

WOOD SHOP FLOOR/MARINE SHOP

The plan would not only provide a cosmetic change of replacing the buckling wood shop floor, Mr. Gamberg said, but would construct a marine shop in place of the current auto shop.

The Porter Marine Program would provide Greenport students and others from neighboring districts with a place to study trades in the marine industry. The program would offer students credit-bearing courses intended for continued study at trade school or college.

The program would partner with close to 50 local marine businesses to get students out in the field and utilize experts as mentors.

Mr. Gamberg wants Southold students to come to the district for the marine program.

For those upgrades, the money would be utilized from the educational and administrative upgrades category.

The plan would also replace the defunct dust ventilator attached to the wood shop classroom.

WATER PENETRATION/EAST WALL

Faulty radiators and damaged masonry on the east side of the building prompted some teachers to remove objects from windows in fear of water damage, Mr. Gamberg said.

Middle and high school principal Gary Kalish, whose office faces east, said the walls in his office are permanently damaged.

If the plan is approved, masonry would be repaired to eliminate water infiltration and a section of the east side of the building would be replaced, Mr. Gamberg said. Part of the brick exterior of the building would be repainted and resealed, Mr. Mosher said.

The district would also replace the irrigation well attached to the water supply system.

LOCKERS AND LIGHTS

All of the lockers on the third floor of the building were donated 15 years ago, Mr. Gamberg said.

Energy-saving LED bulbs, part of the $1.2 million Energy Performance Contract portion of the plan, will offset the portion of the bond project and save the district $1 million a year to pay for itself after roughly 12 years, Mr. Gamberg said.

“This is just a different route to getting new lighting,” he said.

BLEACHERS

A revision of the plan, presented earlier this month, would reduce the cost of the project by eliminating athletic-related upgrades. There are two options for the plan that would alter funding amounts and affect the related tax increase — one with, and one without, a turf field. Both options are based on the use of $800,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund.

All plan options would replace the black steel bleachers parallel to the football field, Mr. Mosher said.

Roughly eight years ago, the district partnered with North Fork Welding, who replaced some of the rotted material, he said. New seating, floorboards and a fresh coat of paint are applied to the bleachers annually, he said. It’s unclear if the bleachers would be modified into a different material.

BATHROOMS

“This is beyond cleanable,” Mr. Gamberg said about one bathroom on the third floor.

Approximately $2 million of the proposed bond would be budgeted for gutting and replacing all sinks, urinals, toilets and paper dispensers in the bathrooms throughout the building. Each bathroom would cost about $100,000, Mr. Gamberg said.

Top photo caption: Maintenance mechanic Charles Mosher outlines areas in the school that need updating. (Credit: Kate Nalepinski)

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