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'We Can No
Longer Wait'

By Susan Monteleone
ELDRED — November 22, 2005 – These past few years, the Eldred Central School Board has been focused on the Mackenzie Elementary School’s various issues with its septic, windows and doors and even the cafeteria floor tiles.
Now they’re facing possibly even more work, this time at the high school in Eldred.
At the recent Eldred Central School Board meeting, School Board President Vincent Zike stated that the high school is deteriorating to such a level that he is very concerned for the students and staff.
"The building is in rough shape,” he said. “It is over 60 years old and needs a lot of work. . . . We need to do something about it.”
Zike is proposing that the board and Supt. Ivan Katz look into scheduling the necessary repairs to the building in an extremely quick manner and added that if the repairs are not done soon, the district could be looking at a financial catastrophe.
Charles Ross, the director of architecture for Foit Albert, has been inspecting both school buildings for the past four years, and he informed the board of what is in need of repair.
"In the summer of 2003, we had Patricia Electric of Syracuse, a private electrical company, review the school's electric system, and it was discovered that there were potential hot spots in certain areas of the school that could cause overheating of wires."
However, Katz noted that at the time the hot spots were not at a dangerous level.
Ross added that the school's fire alarm system needed to be updated.
"There is nothing wrong with the current alarm system,” he said. “It needs to be updated to meet certain requirements. Along with that, the school’s whole electrical system needs to be updated, as it currently does not meet the needs of the building. The current electrical system is from 1941 and is just not adequate for the needs of the high school.”
Zike noted, however, "The high school's current electrical system is up to code, and everything as far as the electrical system has been expected and approved."
Zike added, "We do need to expedite repairs, and I am proposing two options: we can first tuition out the students to area schools and close the school permanently, or we have to come up with a plan of action to repair the school without the taxes going through the roof. We can no longer wait to do the repairs, and if we wait, then we will be liable to have a safety issue where the state could come and tell us to close the school.
“There is no easy fix,” he said. “It has to be done. I have lifted up the red flag, and the board needs to do something, but the board still has not changed any scheduled repair date."
School Board Member Robert Burrow added, "This has thrown me totally off guard. We did plan on putting up a referendum in the year 2007, but after what I have just heard, we cannot wait. This project could cost as much as $8 million, and currently we have scheduled repairs to Mackenzie and the loan payment in the amount of roughly $400,000 will not be paid off until 2007 – that is why we wanted to try to wait."
Zike responded, "We have presented Ivan with a plan and asked him if we can move sooner than planned. However, if it comes to a safety issue, we will move sooner. We have many issues to look at with this new state of the high school, and we need to look at it fully without hitting the taxpayers so hard."

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