T he second phase of a two-phase construction project that will result in the complete renovation of the Whitehall High School auditorium is expected to begin as soon as this week and officials remain hopeful that graduation ceremonies will not be affected.
The Whitehall Board of Education approved several bids Monday night and Superintendent James Watson said he expects crews to begin removing seating on Monday.
“We opened the bids last week and felt they were favorable,” Watson said. “We are very comfortable with the people we will be using.”
Watson said JJ Curran and Son, Inc., the same company that installed new flooring in the new gymnasium two years ago, will install the flooring on the stage. Also, Ray Supply in Glens Falls will install the sound and video system.
“We’ve used them before and they were both within or under our budget,” Watson said.
The work is expected to take approximately 10 weeks and officials have set June 10 as the final date for completion. If crews can adhere to that schedule, this year’s graduating class will have its commencement ceremonies inside the newly renovated auditorium.
“We are hopeful it will be ready for graduation. If not, ceremonies will be moved to the gymnasium,” Watson said.
He said the greatest difficulty to the construction process being completed on time is the timely delivery of materials. If delivery is delayed the completion date could be pushed back.
As an effort to safeguard against delays, school officials have preordered the seating, which is the largest production part of the project.
Renovation of the interior of the auditorium is the second, albeit larger, portion of the project.
The first phase of the project involved the replacement of the auditorium roof. Crews completed that in early October, and received approval from the state last month to begin the second phase.
The total cost of the project has been estimated at $625,000; $115,000 for the roof and $510,000 for renovations. Business manager Jodi Bradshaw said in October that the costs for the replacement of the roof came right in on budget and Watson said the current work is within the budget allocation.
Those costs are being paid for by a transfer of monies from the general fund to a capital project account and a reserve account that had been set aside for “future renovations to the Elementary and Jr./Sr. High School buildings.”
In other matters, the Board of Education approved $13,205,125 in expenditures for the 2012-2013 budget.
That figure is a decrease of $257,963 or 1.92 percent from last year.
Although the budget has not been completed, Watson said he doesn’t anticipate there will be changes in expenses.
He said the tax levy increase is projected to be 1.98 percent, just below the 2 percent tax cap mandated by the state and well below the 2.6 percent the district could have raised taxes after factoring in allowable exclusions.
Watson said officials still have some fine tuning to complete before the budget is finalized. There’s a chance the district could receive $12,000 to $13,000 in additional revenue from the state, but if they do that money will be applied to next year’s budget.
Officials expect to submit a completed budget to the Board of Education next month and will hold a public hearing for the budget at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 7. The annual budget vote will occur from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15, in the large group instructional room at the high school.
Virginia Rivette, vice president of the Board of Education, said Alan Prindle completed an audit of the district’s purchasing procedures and the results were good.
He reviewed 35 orders, totaling $305,000, and only found problems with two orders which hadn’t been signed by a district employee. Prindle recommended the district ensure that every order is signed in the future.
Mark DeLuca, president of the Board of Education, said they are seeking individuals who would like to run for the board.
The terms of Joyce Corcoran and Michael Putorti are coming to an end this fall. Corcoran said she will not seek reelection and Putorti is undecided. Each term is for five years.
The board is also seeking a candidate to fill the four years remaining on George Armstrong’s term. Armstrong had to vacate the position after he became town supervisor. By New York State law, town supervisor is the only political office that can not also serve on a board of education.
Interested candidates can contact the superintendent’s office at 499-1772 for more information. Elections will be held with the budget votes on May 15.
The board also appointed Brad Countermine, a former social studies teacher in the district, to teach driver’s education this summer, and announced the retirement of second-grade teacher Annette Parrott.
Parrott has been with the district for 35 years.