SCHOOL SPENDING: $546K approved for bleachers, parking lots, bus, cameras, more

By Jason Hawk -

Talk about a busy summer — a $546,500 list of 2016 school improvement projects was approved Monday by the Amherst board of education.

Once the final bells ring in May, work will begin on security enhancements, sports facility upgrades, and routine maintenance affecting every school except Harris Elementary.

Here’s the breakdown:

Steele High School

• The north parking lot will get a $120,000 repaving job. Work will cover the area from the media center to cafetorium.

• An air compressor (part of the heating and cooling system) will be replaced in the science wing at a cost of $15,000.

• A new “fob” entrance, accessible by electronic key only, will be added in the science wing. The expected price tag is $8,000.

• Problems with the public address system will be upgraded in a $5,000 project. Superintendent Steven Sayers said issues were revealed during an Amherst police drill in September, when it became clear announcements were not reaching all parts of the building. The media center and cafetorium are trouble spots.

• The inside of the high school will be re-keyed: $10,000.

Amherst Junior High

• Additional security cameras will be installed in the building at a cost of $3,000.

• A fob entrance (similar to the one listed above at Steele) will be built.

• Window repairs totaling roughly $3,000 will be made to help with energy efficiency.

Nord Middle School

• Security cameras will be installed with an estimated cost of $10,000.

• A floor scrubber will be purchased: $7,500.

Powers Elementary

• A carpet cleaner will be purchased at a cost of $4,000.


• Final grading and drainage infrastructure for softball and baseball fields on Washington Street will cost about $20,000.

• About $20,000 will be needed to finish laying football field sod.

• Another $40,000 has been put aside for miscellaneous upgrades and fixes at the football stadium, especially its bleachers. Sayers told the News-Times that an annual inspection revealed several areas that need addressed to meet state codes, including the addition of railings to the visitors side stands.

Bus garage

• A new school bus will be purchased, with the cost estimated at $90,000.

• An above ground gasoline storage tank will be purchased and installed to the tune of $5,000, providing additional capacity for fleet fuel.

• Five security cameras will be installed: $7,500.

• An undercarriage washer will cost approximately $1,500 and will help keep vehicles clean.

Other costs

• While there are no specific plans in place, $100,000 has been set aside for technology purchases in 2016. Sayers said the money will likely be used at the high school to purchase more electronic devices for instruction.

• Another $50,000 has been appropriated for patching, sealing, and crack-filling of parking lots, though the areas most in need of maintenance have yet to be identified. This is the one expenditure that could potentially apply to Harris Elementary.

• Work takes expert planning, so $15,000 has been earmarked for architect fees.

All the above projects are covered by permanent improvement levy funds, not day-to-day operations money.

The Amherst Schools collect about $650,000 per year from its voter-approved PI property tax, leaving $103,500 in reserve for contingencies.

Sayers said most projects are aimed at preventative maintenance and meeting safety standards.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk