$1.7 million more in work coming to Riverhead HS

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08/28/2013 5:00 PM |

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | School board vice president Greg Meyer (from left), Superintendent Nancy Carney and board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse voting on resolutions during Tuesday night’s board meeting, at which Ms. Carney spoke at length about more planned construction work for the high school.

Repairs at Riverhead High School costing $1.7 million, which were identified by a community-based committee, were approved at this week’s school board meeting and will get underway alongside other school construction projects currently in progress.

Superintendent Nancy Carney gave a presentation at Tuesday night’s meeting on using the district’s repair-reserve fund for various upgrades at the high school, including replacement of lighting and crumbling concrete in the back plaza courtyard, repair of the south and student parking lots and replacement of a damaged ceiling and lighting in the cafeteria.

Ms. Carney said the needed repairs were identified by the district’s Community Partnership for Revitalization Committee, known as CPR. The volunteer group, made up of district residents and employees, was asked to revise an infrastructure upgrade plan after the district’s proposed bond project was overwhelmingly defeated in 2010. Residents ultimately approved both a scaled-down $78.3 million capital improvement bond project in 2011 and a referendum to establish a repair-reserve fund of up to $5 million to pay for infrastructure upgrades. Capital improvement projects included in the voter-approved bond proposal — such as a new roof, windows, ventilation and electrical systems, science classrooms and additional music and art space — were identified by the CPR committee as a “priority,” and are included in the work through the bond, Ms. Carney said.

The bond project also includes installing a new gym floor and new bleachers, a new auditorium and renovating classrooms to replace the high school’s portable classrooms.

A third “wish list” was created that included items like a turf athletic field, she added.

“In order to have the best buying power and minimize the costs, we had these [secondary] repairs built into the [bond proposal] bidding process as alternates,” Ms. Carney said before the meeting.

Following Ms. Carney’s presentation, the school board closed the public hearing and voted 6-0 to approve the $1.7 million repair-reserve fund expenditure. School board member Amelia Lantz was absent.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Calverton resident Sal Mastropaolo criticized the school board for voting on the resolution the same night as the public hearing because he believes it doesn’t give the public a fair chance to weigh in on the proposal. He suggested the school board leave the public hearing open for two weeks to allow for written comments.

“There’s only six or eight of us here,” he said, “but yet there are maybe several hundred watching Channel 22 when the meeting comes up.”

Ms. Carney said the school board has the authority to vote on a measure after closing a public hearing.

In addition to discussing work at the high school, the school board approved a change order to replace solar panel and wind power plans from its energy performance contract. The energy performance contract is separate from the bond proposal and repair-reserve fund.

The photovoltaic project had been planned for the high school, middle school and Aquebogue, Phillips Avenue and Riley Avenue elementary schools. The estimated cost per school was $50,000, according to school documents. Also in the plan was a $12,000 wind power generation project at the high school.

The school board agreed Tuesday night to swap out the solar and wind proposals for two walk-in refrigerators at the high school to replace models purchased in the 1970s, and for LED lighting projects at Phillips Avenue and Riley Avenue elementary schools.

According to the school board meeting’s agenda, the solar panel project was canceled due to “capital construction project roof work overlap” and the wind project was removed because the manufacturer is “no longer in business.”

School board president Greg Meyer said the decision to pull the solar panel project from the plan was made in part because of a “timeframe” conflict.

“It’s not like we’re scrapping them,” he said. “Our energy performance contract requires the solar panels be in at a certain time and with our new roofs going in we won’t be able to meet that part of the contract.”

Ms. Carney said after the meeting that the district is looking at its alternative energy options and companies have approached the district about different solar energy projects. Those proposals will be presented to the school board at a future meeting, she said.

jennifer@timesreview.com

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