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Canton school complex getting facelift; $15 million capital project under way


CANTON — It may be summer vacation, but activity at Canton Central School District has been in high gear since school let out in June.

Bulldozers, backhoes and numerous construction workers have been at the 99 State St. school complex working on the $15 million renovation project that includes a new $6 million heating and ventilation system and major reconstruction in McKenney Middle School.

The capital project has involved a range of upgrades inside and outside, with a few snags discovered along the way.

School Superintendent William A. Gregory said asbestos abatement work in the middle school has been more extensive than planned, which will delay installation of the new hot water boiler system by a week or two. Four boilers were supposed to be installed last week.

The additional asbestos work also increases the cost of that portion of the project, meaning spending in other areas may have to be trimmed. The state is covering 89 percent of the capital project costs.

“It’s an expensive process and above what we originally budgeted,” Mr. Gregory said. “That is the biggest snag we’ve had.”

Parts of the project are supposed to finish in time for the Sept. 5 opening of school, including reconstruction of the driveway loop, new curbing and new sidewalks.

“We have a lot of work left to do in six weeks,” Mr. Gregory said. “We have to make sure the school is operational by then.”

Keeping the school building complex in updated condition also places the Canton district in a strong position as it looks to the possibility of merging with Potsdam Central School or other area schools.

“It positions us to have an updated facility that could accommodate several hundred additional students should some form of merger or consolidation eventually occur,” Mr. Gregory said.

Loran Construction, Hogansburg, is the general contractor for the middle school reconstruction. Many of the subcontractors are local, including Norwood Plumbing and Skelly Contractors Inc., Ogdensburg.

SEI Design, Rochester, was architect. Bette & Cring Construction Group, based in Latham, was hired to install the new heating and ventilation system, while Campus Management, Rochester, was hired to provide the construction site management.

An exterior wall in the swimming pool area is being replaced because high moisture levels caused the metal studs to deteriorate. It also saturated the wall’s insulation.

To prevent the problem, a new dehumidifier system is being installed and the new wall will have more extensive insulation. The pool may not be ready in time for the varsity girls’ swimming team to start practice in August.

Extensive renovations to McKenney Middle School include new bathrooms and new gymnasium locker rooms next to the swimming pool. The former facilities were gutted.

Crews also are remodeling 16 classrooms in the north-south wing of the building. Doors will be added to close off the former open-style classrooms. Those rooms likely won’t be ready until the 2014-15 school year.

Soundproof movable partitions will be installed between the rooms so the space can be opened up to accommodate up to 120 students for testing purposes or assemblies.

Students in grades seven and eight will be housed in the high school this school year while the renovations continue. A large computer lab with 30 computers will be added to replace two smaller computer labs.

The football field is being upgraded with new sod and drainage. The outdoor track will be fitted with a new synthetic surface. The football team will have to play elsewhere this fall.

Outdated bathrooms in Hugh C. Williams High School will be replaced by larger, handicapped-accessible facilities that meet standards required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The high school cafeteria has new ceilings, new lighting and a fresh coat of paint. New energy-efficient lighting, exterior doors and security systems were installed throughout the complex. New light poles with LED lighting have been installed outside the building to improve safety and the loading docks have been replaced.

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