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Carthage CSD holds open forum to discuss Great Bend Facility’s future


GREAT BEND — The Carthage Central School District Board of Education will share with the public ideas about capital improvement projects and security upgrades.

To lead off discussion about possible construction projects in the district, there will be a public forum on the future of the Great Bend district offices. The forum will be held March 12 at the Great Bend School. At 5:30 p.m., visitors are invited to tour the building and at 6 p.m. the forum will start in the gymnasium.

The district must decide if it is worth it to invest more than $700,000 in repairs and building upgrades or if it should explore the option of selling the property.

“We either need to upgrade the facility or decide it’s not of value to the district,” Carthage Central School Superintendent Peter J. Turner said. “It’s always a tough choice to close a neighborhood school, even though it’s not used primarily as a school anymore.”

The building has offices for several district officials and is the site for alternative high school classes for 25 students.

Mr. Turner said an evaluation conducted a few years ago determined that improvements to the facility could come to $760,000.

“The estimate is a minimum cost to upgrade the building,” said Mr. Turner.

He said the district could also decide not to do all improvements at once, but the two big-ticket items that would need to be fixed immediately are the most expensive.

The important projects include the removal of asbestos, at a cost of about $240,000; the replacement of the school’s floors that needs to be done after the asbestos removal, estimated to cost $50,000; and the purchase of a new boiler, estimated to cost $350,000.

Other improvements include installing energy efficient windows for approximately $35,000, upgrading the electrical system for $50,000, upgrading building security for $10,000 and repairing sidewalks for $25,000.

Another alternative is for the district not to replace or fix anything except when it becomes absolutely necessary. Mr. Turner said this could mean using emergency funds in the budget.

Mr. Turner said there are mixed feelings from the community about keeping the building, which isn’t eligible for state aid because it isn’t used primarily for instruction, in order to preserve a symbol for the Great Bend community.

“We know there are going to be people who have strong feelings on both sides of this issue,” said Mr. Turner. “We’re hoping to hear back and maybe get some creative ideas we hadn’t considered.”

Mr. Turner said that based on what he’s seen, he doesn’t believe there’s any interest in purchasing the building.

“You hear all the time about people taking over these older facilities and turning them into office spaces or even apartments,” said Mr. Turner.

The district would also have to weigh its options about where to move the offices and classrooms currently at the school.

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