OSWEGO – At the Oswego City School District School Board meeting, King + King Architects, a company working on the district capital project, offered an update for each phase of the project, including a new budget which should be $ 24,262,098 compared to the pre-referendum budget forecasts.
The increase in the cost of the capital project is in part due to a COVID-19 factor of 30% which takes into account increases in labor, material and transportation costs. Another large part of the increase comes from additional range items. These elements were not taken into account in the pre-referendum budget and some are not yet in the plans; however, these are improvements that would be quite useful to the district. The potential improvements actually emerged as a result of planning over the past year or so and therefore had not been budgeted for. According to Craig Dailey, project manager at King + King, extra scope is quite common for capital projects, “especially when you’re dealing with existing buildings.”
According to Dailey, some additional elements of the scope needed to be completed, such as the contaminated soil project and the floodplain which was “not known as a requirement” until the city proposed it. Another additional scope that is being considered but has not been approved includes the renovation of the college’s art and family and consumer science rooms, the guidance office suites, as well as the cafeteria. These have not yet been taken into account as their phases have not yet started construction.
Currently, there is no set timeline for Phases 3 through 5, but King + King has offered a proposed timeline to the board. King + King suggested that the district begin bidding on Phase 3A, which consists of work on primary schools, at the end of November and construction will be completed in September 2023. The construction phase of the college, 3B , is proposed to send the plan to the State Department of Education in April 2022 and construction will be completed in 2024. The last two phases, 4 and 5, are not expected to begin in any capacity until 2024 and 2029 respectively.
Prior to the capital project update, council heard from the district external auditor, Thomas Zuber. Zuber explained that the district is in very good financial shape, despite state level uncertainty.
“For the most part, the districts ended the year in a much better position because of some of the changes that took place initially,” Zuber said. “Where there is uncertainty is obviously that there has been some state-level rotation in the governorship, and we don’t know which direction things are going to go.”
Zuber added that most of the schools he has worked with this year are in good standing and specifically recommended that the Oswego City School District reinvest the excess budget into the local portion of the emergency project.
“One of the recommendations is to help support the local part of the school district’s emergency project, and that would be by appropriating the balance of funds and sending in the 2022 budget,” Zuber said. “So taking some of that year-end surplus and reinvesting it… would make some really good financial decisions.”
Towards the end of the Superintendent’s report, Dr Mathis Calvin III referred to the district’s plan for COVID-19 testing. According to Calvin, the state requires schools to have the capacity to perform surveillance tests and the ability to perform diagnostic tests or at the very least refer people to local health care providers. In order to offer surveillance testing, the district wants to use Affinity Assure’s bundle testing, as the federal government has a program with it, making testing free for school districts. The other option is Quadrant Biosciences, the same company that worked with SUNY for their weekly COVID-19 testing. Working with Quadrant Biosciences would cost between $ 15 and $ 20 per test, which the district could not afford using only its share of the funding the county received for schools in July. The plan for the district is to require weekly tests for unvaccinated teachers and staff, while allowing parents to enroll their children for surveillance tests as well.
Regarding the resolutions that were presented in the three sub-units of the agenda which include program, staff and finance, each topic was approved unanimously. The only topic that had to be amended before it was accepted was topic J of the personnel section. The amendment sought to remove the recommendation of Stevie Smith, who had previously been recommended for a food service aide position at a probationary level.
Agenda items and meeting documents can be found here. The full meeting can be viewed in the video link provided above.