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EXCEL grant offers facility upgrade aid

Officials say aging systems to be upgraded, made more energy-efficient

A generator failure at Saranac Central School prompted emergency action by the school board and left afterschool programs in the dark in October, prompting further discussion about replacing the district’s aging infrastructure.

A generator failure at Saranac Central School prompted emergency action by the school board and left afterschool programs in the dark in October, prompting further discussion about replacing the district’s aging infrastructure. File photo

— The Saranac Central School District is asking voters to approve a capital improvement plan that district officials say will have no impact on the tax levy.

The project is aimed at making severely needed safety and heating system upgrades as well as making the district’s buildings more energy efficient, according to school officials. The upgrades will be funded through a $583,878 EXCEL grant — money made available to all public school districts in New York state to be used for energy, health, and safety improvements — combined with state building aid.

Superintendent Kenneth O. Cringle said upgrading the systems is a growing concern. System failures, such as the Saranac Elementary boiler last year and the Saranac Middle/High School generator failure in October, show the longer the district waits to upgrade the more money it is costing the district.

Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds James Giroux said the outdated systems have put a strain on his annual budget and because of the age of the systems he is sometimes unable to find replacement parts for the equipment.

“I strive to create a quality learning environment, we are here to serve the students and we strive to do that but sometimes it feels like we physically can't control the space because the machinery is so old,” Giroux said.

District voters rejected a $17.5 million capital improvement plan in February 2010 that would have cost taxpayers about $100,000 annually for 15 years. The original plan included a 3,000-square-foot addition to the elementary school as well as technology upgrades.

“One of the reasons that we brought up the original referendum, is we do have some aging systems that we need,” Cringle said. “In consideration for the economy we are recommending only energy and safety items, no other items. The other project involved technology, even though we could use an upgrade we are holding off until the economy turns around.”

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