Work on schedule, within budget at PYA

Gwen Chamberlain
The morning sun plays geometric games with scaffolding for temporary stairs at Penn Yan Academy. Workers have an hour-by-hour schedule to follow in order to prepare the building for the first day of school on Sept. 3.

This fall will mark a time of change for Penn Yan Academy students way before the rest of the U.S. has a say in a change in the White House.

When the Academy students walk into their school building, the first thing they’re likely to notice is the absence of ceilings. Pipes and wires are strung between the steel beams overhead, and it’s very clear the building is a construction zone. The cafeteria has been down-sized and a temporary kitchen is near completion, yet to be inspected by state Department of Health officials.

The area north of the temporary kitchen, where the new kitchen will be built, is simply excavated ground enclosed in the old structure. Likewise, the former music suite has been excavated and the underground utilities there are complete, but new concrete floors need to be poured.

Students will also note two new exits from the eastern hallway, south of the main office. The exit at the end of that wing leads to the construction area where the new media wing construction is underway. One of the new temporary exits leads to the courtyard area and the other leads to the bus loop area.

Before the Aug. 13 board of education meeting, some members of the board and school district staff took a tour of a portion of the academy with Jim Higgins of LeChase Construction, the construction manager. During the tour, Higgins said an hour-by-hour schedule has been worked out for all the contractors to accomplish what needs to be done before school opens Sept. 3.

Although the only state inspection that’s required before school opens is the department of health’s inspection of the temporary kitchen, an architect’s inspection will be held Aug. 21. The architect is responsible for ensuring all building code issues are addressed, explained Higgins.

A portion of Court Street was blocked off last week as work was done on sewer connections between the school and the village system.

Higgins also reported to the board during its regular meeting, explaining the project is on schedule, with academy office staff expected back in their spaces on Aug. 18. He said all the asbestos abatement work is being completed on time. He also reported all the barrier fences are up and signs warning of the construction and hard hat areas are in place.

While heavy rains washed out some of the erosion controls, they have been repaired and continue to be monitored as required by law.

Higgins said foundation work for the new media wing, being built near Court Street is underway and the goal is to have the wing enclosed by winter so interior work can be done.

Superintendent Ann Orman says a newsletter that will be mailed throughout the district this week will include a construction update and photos.

The incoming ninth grade students and their parents will get a first look at the scene on Aug. 27 when their orientation night is held in the academy, said Orman.

Other business on the board’s agenda at the Aug. 13 meeting included:

• Branchport School: The board authorized Assistant Superintendent Carolyn Benedict to make arrangements to drain the heating fuel tank at the Branchport School and dispose of the tank so the building can be formally closed and put out of service.

Benedict says district staff have been required to go to the school every day to measure the fuel in the tank. Once the tank is removed, there will be no need to make the daily visits. To close the building, Orman said workers will drain water from the systems and periodically check the building. Orman said the board will begin planning the future of the building and property soon.

• Tax Rolls and Tax Levy: The board unanimously approved the tax rolls and tax levy of $15.8 million for the 2008-2009 school budget. The board agreed to apply $400,000 from its $1.5 million surplus toward reducing the tax levy. President Jeff Morehouse and members Judy Kirk and Rennee Thayer were absent.

•  Appointments: The board appointed Bethany Boyce to a post as special education teacher long term substitute at a pro-rated salary of $38,670; Paul Donovan and Randy Richardson as full time custodians and Carmen Moss as concessions coordinator at a stipend of $1,456.

Workers are preparing the area north of Penn Yan Academy for the addition of a new gymnasium wing.