By Rich Place

The SGI School Board of Education on Tuesday, March 20 is expected to vote on a resolution that would give the green light for the district to put its recently discussed $14.73 million P-TECH capital project up for a districtwide vote in May.

The vote by the board will be the first official action taken on the project and keeps it on schedule for opening by September 2020, pending approval by voters in May.

The school board has heard multiple presentations on the P-TECH program, which stands for Pathways in Technology Early College High School, and is a joint partnership between the Springville-Griffith school district, Erie 2 BOCES and Alfred State College. It’s a five- or six-year program for freshman high school students that allows them to earn both a state Regents Diploma and an associate’s degree.

The project itself is expected to move the district offices to the middle school and add to the current district office building to accommodate the program.

The search, led by Dr. Janeil Rey, Erie 2 BOCES P-TECH Director, is on to find students to participate in the program. At the March 6 school board meeting, she said all targeted area districts have been contacted.

Springville superintendent Kimberly Moritz said the program is scheduled to open this fall with the first cohort, which will utilize four classrooms this year and six classrooms next year.

“We absolutely do not have the capacity to handle the third year’s cohort in the following year, that’s why I say we must open by September 2020,” Moritz told the board.

The board heard from a handful of project officials at its March 6 meeting including Rey; Jeff Nunn from Gordon W. Jones Associates; Nick Humphrey from Campus Construction Management; and Karen Moon, a financial advisor from Bernard P. Donegan.

Nunn highlighted proposed architectural renderings and a floor plan to the board, noting specific design comes later in the project timeline.

“You don’t do a full detailed design until after you know the project has passed,” Moritz added. More detail will be submitted to the state Education Department pending voter approval, she said.

The longest conversation about the project centered around finances, led by Moon. The project’s unique partnership with entities other than the district makes it more complex that a traditional school capital project.

“In this unique partnership with Erie 2 BOCES and Alfred State, the basic premise we have to remember is this is a Springville building and a Springville capital project but it will be leased for an Erie 2 BOCES program,” Moritz said. “So the lease BOCES pays will cover this local share.”

After a handful of calculations related to the maximum cost allowance on projects by the state, it was determined about $2 million of the $14.73 million project will not be covered by building aid. Through another series of calculations on how that cost would be divided amongst the 27 districts within this BOCES, Moon estimated about $23,000 annually will be Springville’s share of the project before it receives roughly 66 percent aid on that figure.

“This is something I would not normally go into great detail on but I think it’s important to be fully forthcoming with you and honest and transparent,” Moritz said. “So I’ve been saying there is no local cost to the taxpayer. In fact there is at a very, I would say, minimal cost.”

She said the district, for example, currently pays for a similar P-TECH program in Dunkirk because it’s part of the BOCES program despite not sending any students to it.

“If they were building this in another district, we still would share that cost,” she said. “So from my perspective it’s here in our district benefitting our community and that’s been very important to me from the beginning when they first approached us about this partnership.”

The March 6 presentation was given to allow the school board to see all the facts and figures of the project before their expected March 20 vote, Humphrey said. If approved by the school board, project officials will host community presentations to educate the public about the project, he said.

That allows for a project vote by the public on May 15 — the same day as the school budget and board candidate vote — and allow for submission to state Education Department for approval early in 2019.

The project would go out to bid and construction would begin following state approval and is expected to be moved into in August 2020 to coincide with Alfred State College’s academic calendar.