Fredonia votes ‘yes’ for district EXCEL project

The Fredonia Central School District is ready to start a new EXCEL Capital Project in the near future after holding a public referendum on Tuesday.

By an unofficial vote count of 241 “yes” votes to 46 “no” votes, district residents approved the project after they cast their ballots in the high school cafeteria.

A total of 220 people voted at the polling location while 21 voted by absentee ballot.

“I’m pleased, obviously, that the building project passed, and I want to thank all the voters that came out (Tuesday), the ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ voters,” Superintendent Paul DiFonzo said after finding out the results. “I would have liked to see more voters out, but I understand it’s the time of year where weather conditions play a factor. I think the brochure and the information shared with the community was fairly straightforward. This project is, more or less, general maintenance items, and I think the public felt that it was a responsible project.”

The voting results will officially be canvassed by the board of education at its next regular meeting on Jan. 14.

The project’s $3.35 million first phase (which is what voters passed) will focus on the Main Street campus and will address various concerns and necessary updates in and around the building. There will not be an expected change in the school tax levy as a result of the project.

According to Director of Instruction Joseph Reyda, the interior work of the project will entail: Resealing the moisture barrier at the interior pool wall; replacing network closets for the computer network throughout the district, which will result in the ability to process more data and create a wireless network; replacing the high school built-up roof and insulation; and mechanical and code corrections to the high school lobby elevator.

Additionally, the project will consist of: Replacing hardware on doors in the auditorium, gymnasium and cafeteria, which currently have hardware that can no longer be repaired; replacing the ventilation system in the presentation room, which no longer works efficiently; replacing clocks throughout the district so that all of them tell the same time; and installing a wireless microphone system for stage and communication use in the auditorium.

If prices come in better than expected, work that may be added to Phase I includes replacing vinyl composite tiling and carpet flooring in select rooms, and the replacement of the public address and telephone systems, which both currently utilize outdated technology.

As part of exterior site work for the project, the worn and patchy running track will be rebuilt at its current location and the interior field there will be fixed up. Additional walkways will be considered, depending on final project costs.

DiFonzo previously called Phase I a “modest” endeavor for the school.

“Most of the things we’re doing are general maintenance items that we couldn’t afford to do without the EXCEL aid,” he said. “(Looking at) the size of Fredonia’s district, the size of our budget, a $3.35 million project is relatively modest when you see what other districts around us have been able to do with their EXCEL aid.”

DiFonzo said the next step will be to submit the paperwork for the project to the State Education Department for approval. That approval will most likely take many months to secure from the state and will push construction to summer 2015.