Thursday, December 6, 2018

Phase 3 Capital Renovation Project Update:

As you may recall, the Phase 3 Renovation Project scope included (originally voted on by the community in March 2016):

  • Transportation Center (Fuel Tanks, Paving, Bus Lifts, Door Restoration);
  • Wetzel Road Building (New Roof);
  • LHS Swimming Pool (Pool Deck);
  • Liverpool High School (Auditorium, Chorus Room, Orchestra Room, Band Room, Gymnasium, Locker Rooms, Team Rooms, Wellness Center, Lobby spaces for both Auditorium and Gymnasium AND a new Main Entrance along with an Administrative/Counselor Wing);

The items noted above in red have all been completed; the items in blue have not.

Following a lengthy timeline for design and drawing work - as well as submission delays with the New York State Education Department waiting for approval . . . the project was finally bid on by contractors in July 2018.  Following the bid opening process, the pricing (Bids) submitted were significantly over budget.

So now what?  We asked the Board of Education to reject all of the bids (which they did in September 2018).  We took a look at the scope items (above) and decided to focus our efforts and our budget on the spaces that would directly impact students on a daily basis.  So, we removed the new entrance and the administrative wing from the new modified Phase 3 scope.  We have also (as another fail-safe factor) requested the community consider adding $5.8 million to the project budget (through a re-authorization vote).

Essentially, we are asking the community to consider increasing the project total from approximately $39.5 million to about $45 million.  This increase represents a "not to exceed" dollar amount.  We would only be using the necessary funds to accomplish the items included in the project scope.  Also - an important factor . . . the funds would be coming from two (2) areas:  District's Capital Reserve (about 16% or about $950,000); the remaining funds totaling the $5.8 million (about 84%) would come from NY State Building Aid ($4,850,000).  This increase in the project will have a zero dollar impact on the community.  The vote is scheduled for Tuesday, December 11th at the LHS Gymnasium from 6am to 9pm.

Thank You,

Mark F. Potter Ed.D.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Over the past decade, the Liverpool School community has whole-heartedly supported District-Wide facility improvements through building renovations that has exceeded $150,000,000 in capital improvement costs.  These projects include various sizes of construction at most of our building sites including:  Liverpool Middle School, Liverpool Elementary, LHS Stadium, Chestnut Hill Middle School, Chestnut Hill Elementary, Morgan Road Elementary, Soule Road Complex, Liverpool High School Annex, Transportation Center, Wetzel Road Building, Donlin Drive Elementary, Long Branch Elementary (along with pending work at Nate Perry Elementary, Craven Crawford (District Office) Building and Liverpool High School.  These SED-Approved projects [above] do not include the plethora local projects our LCSD Maintenance Staff have embarked on over the past decade as well.  Most of these larger projects were created based on the SED-required "Building Condition Survey" - a state mandate which requires school districts conduct facility evaluations every 5 years.  Most of the focus for these evaluations is based entirely on infrastructure needs, windows, doors, boilers, and roof replacements - the majority of upgrades and renovations that go unseen . . . but positively impact the efficiency, safety and long-term building needs.

As we approached the upcoming facility improvement plan (and the required Building Condition Survey) for school year 2020 . . .  we have decided to divert from the previous "BCS" model of prioritizing building and classroom needs . . . to a more beneficial and realistic process that focuses on an educational values, beliefs, and needs model . . . priorities that will be identified by school staff, students, parents and community members.  We have entitled the project:  Education 2020.  Mr. Dan Henner (Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services) has recently completed all of the individual building presentations.  He will now begin conducting presentations at each of our "Feeder Pattern" sites [MRE, SRE, WFE, & SRMS]; [CHE, DDE, NPE & CHMS]; [EE, LBE, LE & LMS] and, [LHX & LHS].  Our effort is to share how schools have changed over the past years; how the Liverpool School/Community has changed (specifically with regard to demographics); and, how our student needs have changed (with regard to "career readiness").  On November 6th, everyone within the school buildings will have access to a survey - this survey will focus on several prompts.  Specifically, we want to know, "What do you believe are the needs and priorities for future facility planning . . . leading up to our next Facility Improvement Plan (Targeting School Year 2020).  Following the dissemination and administration of the staff survey, the students, parents and community members will be asked to respond in a similar manner with a community survey.  Again, what do you value as positive school experiences; what do believe are the most essential aspects of your child's education (or students in general); and, what needs or improvements may be necessary as we evaluate the instructional resources within Liverpool?   With the on-going tug-of-war for funding (whether it be staffing, programs, supplies, equipment, or facilities), there continues to be a finite amount of money available within our budget.  As such, we want to be frugal and fiduciary responsible -- yet responsive to student's needs (as we continue to prepare them for tomorrow).  

In advance, thank you for your input and contributions as we address our future facility planning process.

Dr. Mark F. Potter, Superintendent of Schools

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Liverpool High School Phase 3 Capital Construction Update:  As I indicated previously, this summer has been very busy – with capital construction renovation work being done at several elementary buildings (primarily roof replacement work), blacktop replacement work at the Transportation Center and some initial preliminary (asbestos removal) work being performed at the Liverpool High School building.

So, where are we at with respect to the Phase 3 Capital Project . . . as you may remember, the Phase 3 Project consisted of several components: The Transportation Center renovations (including fuel tank replacements), the Liverpool High School Pool Deck repairs, the Wetzel Road Elementary School Roof replacement, and the major renovations occurring at the Liverpool High School Auditorium, Gymnasium, New Front Entrance, and Boiler Replacement/Chiller Installation.

At this point, the work at the Transportation Center is complete; the roof at Wetzel Elementary has been substantially completed; the pool deck at the high school has been finished.  At the high school, we have encountered several scheduling snags which have resulted in other issues including a bidding/budgeting problem.

This is an up-to-date list of issues followed by possible solutions or resolutions:

On Tuesday, August 7th, the District opened up bids for each of the various portions of the project (including general contractor, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, theatrical, sitework, etc.) for the auditorium, gymnasium, new entrance work, and the boilers.  After a significant review of the low bids, it was the determination of the school district and the Board of Education to reject all bids (given the significant amount the bids were over budget) – at the September 10th Board Meeting.  As such, we have re-reviewed each of the separate components of the Phase 3 Project and have decided to evaluate the necessary items, exclude the non-essential portions, and scale back the new entrance (including the administrative office, guidance offices and other areas included within the new entrance).

It will be necessary to also increase the overall construction budget for the project by about 10% (increase from $30 million to about $33 million) . . . at no additional cost to the community.  We will be asking the community (through a possible vote later this year) to utilize a small portion of the District’s Capital Reserve to cover the local share of the project.  Some of the increase in project cost appears to be attributable to the sheer complexity of the project, a poor time of the year to conduct the bidding process, added SED scope requirements, too many alternates included in the design, an escalation in the cost of steel, and the limited availability of labor, locally.  Once the Board of Education has decided upon a direction for the adjustments in the Phase 3 Capital Project – I will share the details, especially regarding any shift in schedule, timeline, scope, budget, or other pertinent issues associated with the high school project.

At this point, you may (or may not) know – we are utilizing the Wetzel Road Building for several of our high school courses -- previously housed in the 900 Wing (Fine Arts Area) of the high school . . . including Band, Chorus, Orchestra, some Art and FACS classes.  These were moved earlier due to the asbestos removal done over the summer in preparation for Phase 3 construction.  Additionally, with the asbestos abatement completed at the auditorium – we will also be discussing the status of the auditorium – to determine its availability for use during the interim time period.

I am confident that we have created a viable option that serves as a solution for meeting the facility, educational, safety & security needs of the students, staff and community for the Phase 3 Project.

Thank you and I will continue to provide updates as decisions are made.

Dr. Mark F. Potter, Superintendent of Schools

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

September 5, 2018:

Another summer seems to have slipped away and as we know, the Great New York State Fair has closed for another season as well.  For many, this marks the beginning of the “end of summer” . . . for others, this identifies the opening of school.  This week our staff returned and will be attending their various training and orientation sessions (Tuesday and Wednesday) followed by the return of our students (on Thursday) . . . and back into the routine and regiment of "school."

     This summer has been a very busy one - signified by the ambitious schedule of capital improvements throughout the school district.  We are currently finishing up the final punch list items at the Chestnut Hill Elementary and Middle School Campus; we are also finishing the detail work on the roofs at Donlin Drive Elementary, Long Branch Elementary and the Wetzel Road Building as well as driveway renovations at the Transportation Center.  This summer also marks the beginning of work at the Liverpool High School - including main entrance closure and other changes.   Many of the Music, Arts, and Family & Consumer Science courses have been moved temporarily over the Wetzel Road Building as swing space – until the Auditorium Area renovations have been completed.  Currently, the only portions of the Phase 3 project that have been started is the asbestos abatement work in the Auditorium, Band Room, Orchestra Room, and Chorus Room.  We are still awaiting a final decision on the bids submitted by vendors for the project.

School Safety Task Force:

Like many communities across the nation, concerns over the safety of our children spread through Onondaga County, New York following the February 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Shortly after the Parkland shooting, a task force was formed as a joint effort of the offices of the Onondaga County District Attorney, the Onondaga County Office of the County Executive, the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, and the Mayor of Syracuse. The Task Force assembled with the best and the brightest minds from across the county in a host of different areas – educational administration, law enforcement and
criminal justice, public affairs, psychology, emergency management, local government, and, perhaps our greatest assets, students, teachers, and parents from within the county. School safety is a multifaceted, multidisciplinary issue, and the goal was for the task force to reflect this. The Task Force held its first meeting on March 8, 2018, and the group has worked tirelessly since to determine the best practices and areas of improvement that could, as a county, be made to improve our schools in the areas of student and teacher training, threat assessment, school grounds safety, and law enforcement.

The task force joined together stakeholders within the broader Onondaga County community in a variety of areas including, but certainly not limited to, education, law enforcement, emergency response, and government. Parents and students within the community also were recruited to join the group given their respective experiences within the county’s school systems. A total of 59 members comprised the OCSSTF.

Four key areas were identified as points of focus and subsequently formed the OCSSTF’s
committees. The first was student and teacher training; the second area was threat
assessment; school grounds safety served as the third topic; with law enforcement
identified as the last area of inquiry.  Below are the major recommendations for each of the areas identified:

School Safety Task Force Recommendations:

§  Student & Teacher Training:
·      Standard Response Protocol
·      School Climate/Culture
·      Training Expectations
·      Tip-Based Communication System
·      Software Platform for location in crisis
·      Use First Responders for drills and exercises

§  Threat Assessment
·      Define behaviors
·      Centralize reporting systems
·      Define threshold for law enforcement involvement
·      Create Threat Assessment Team participation
·      Management for mental health referrals
·      Trainings

§  School Grounds Safety
·      Classroom Door Locks
·      Key availability for key staff
·      Annual evaluations for safety protocols
·      Evaluation procedures for hardening mechanisms

§  Law Enforcement
·      County-Wide Active Shooter Response Plan
·      Involve 911 System in all aspects of planning
·      Armed School Resource Officer “preferred” method of safety
·      Create clear language safety plans

For a review of the full report – see the link below:

     Thank You and I look forward to an exciting and successful new school year!

     Dr. Mark F. Potter, Superintendent of Schools