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