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Ti school project on schedule

TICONDEROGA - A weak national economy may be good news for Ticonderoga Central School taxpayers.

District officials are about to seek bids on a building and renovation project approved by voters in 2007. Since that time, construction costs have declined.

Superintendent John McDonald pointed to the Mayfield Central School District, where this year a $4.5 million building project came in at $3.6 million.

"This is a difficult time for many people," McDonald said, "but it's a good time to build."

At the time Ticonderoga voters approved the two-year project, the expected cost was $23.8 million.

Ti district architects met with state education department officials in late January to finalize project details. Actual construction is expected to start this spring.

The $23,872,700 project is eligible for 60 percent state aid, which will leave local taxpayers responsible for $13,660,309 - or less if bids come in less than expected in 2007. McDonald said that equates to $75 a year for a resident homeowner with a full valuation of $100,000 starting in 2010 for 20 years.

"We're locked into the state aid," McDonald said, noting state law doesn't allow the state to renege on building aid once it's been awarded.

The superintendent said the Ti school board has closely monitored the national and state economies with an eye on the building project.

"The board is very concerned about everything that is happening in the economy and with our taxpayers," McDonald said. "The board is persistently re-checking the numbers and proceeding cautiously. We're not locked into anything until we sign the contracts."

The school project should have a positive spin-off effect on the local economy, McDonald said. Dozens of contractors will be living, eating and spending in Ticonderoga the next two years, he pointed out.

The high school, which was built in 1929 and had an addition in 1958, and the middle-elementary school, built in 1967, don't meet all the needs of students, McDonald said.

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