Proactive approach

Officials at Norwood-Norfolk Central School District are setting example for other government bodies throughout Northern New York.

They want the district’s architect to conduct a building condition survey. This will give authorities a blueprint for how to proceed with maintaining the district’s facilities in the long run.

“We’re trying to get ahead of the game. We want to get our architect on board and be able to begin formulating a plan moving forward,” Superintendent James Cruikshank said in a story published July 2 by the Watertown Daily Times. “We certainly want to have an architect on board helping with the building condition survey. … Parking lots again are an issue. So are sidewalks and lighting. It’s a series of little things.”

The last time the district undertook a capital project, the state Education Department approved it for $13.5 million in improvements. But this process took about a year and a half, which increased the costs of some of the items on the district’s list.

“Among the projects that were shelved in 2016 was a plan to reconfigure the parking lot to separate buses and private vehicles. Their intention had been to address parking lot drainage issues, and the state Education Department had also wanted them to create a buffer between buses and private vehicles. But school board members rejected the bids because the price tag was beyond what they and their construction manager had anticipated in planning the project,” the story reported. “This time around, the state Education Department has contracted projects out for a speedier turnaround time. Although it’s early in the process, Mr. Cruikshank said they’re planning a potential capital project for 2020.”

By reviewing potential improvements ahead of time, district officials will be able to prioritize projects. This kind of strategic planning is essential for municipal governments with numerous facilities that require periodic maintenance.

This forward-looking practice should provide the Norwood-Norfolk Central School District with a good overview of what projects need to be started sooner and which ones can wait. This will assist any fast-track process the state can offer and better ensure that costs don’t escalate too much for larger items. District officials deserve credit for modeling behavior that should save taxpayer money down the road.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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