BC bond talk nears

New district architect to gather estimates on improvements

— The Bethlehem Central School District is another step closer to drawing up a facilities referendum after the school board approved a new architect at a recent meeting.

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, the educational design firm Ashley McGraw was approved as the new architect for BSCD. While school districts are required by the state to have a contract with an architect, Ashley McGraw will now specifically be in charge of establishing estimates and drawing up plans for facilities upgrades.

“Something the board has brought to light, as well as the community, is that we need accurate numbers,” said Superintendent Thomas Douglas. “In order to do that, we would normally turn to the district’s architect, but we were changing architects.”

The district is deciding whether to bond for facilities improvements including infrastructure work, technology upgrades and a new sports complex. Completing all of the projects would cost about $14 million, according to existing estimates. The Board of Education at this point has not decided what should be included in the bond, or if one should be pursued at all. District residents would need to approve of the bonding in a public referendum.

Daniel Heukrath from Ashley McGraw said starting this week the design firm will visit all the district’s buildings and sports facilities to update the district’s five-year plan, which is mandated by the state. The architect can then give better estimates to the board members, who will ultimately next decide what to include in the bond proposal.

“They aren’t designing anything yet,” said BC Operations and Maintenance Director Gregg Nolte. “We need to get a grasp on cost and what materials are best suited for these projects.”

Construction on any approved projects is not expected to begin until 2014. Project estimates from Ashley McGraw are expected by the school board’s next meeting at the end of November.

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