The Recorder – Frontier School Committee approves slew of repair projects

Published: 11/12/2021 3:35:31 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The Frontier Regional School District School Committee approved a laundry list of requests Tuesday night, including the progression of the “big six” capital improvements and the adoption of a revised public comment policy.

The committee approved the borrowing of $300,000 to begin the next two phases of the “big six” projects, which entail replacing carpets throughout the school and installing a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. The “big six” are a group of high-priority projects that need to be completed at Frontier Regional School and include the now-completed track, carpets, HVAC, repaving of the driveway, library improvements and roof repairs. The estimated cost for all six projects is projected to be around $1.8 million.

Superintendent Darius Modestow said now is a good opportunity to tackle the carpet and HVAC system repairs because loan rates are low and the projects can be completed within a year’s time.

“We would like this year to begin the carpet project and take the loan out for the project now while the interest rates are low,” Modestow told the School Committee. “The subcommittee voted to request an additional $300,000 of borrowing to complete the next two projects and have sent that on to you.”

Modestow refreshed the committee and public on what has been done so far in regards to the “big six” and how much money has been spent.

“We received the ability to go out and take loans for the big six projects that equal $1.8 million,” he said. “We’ve already done the $634,000 for the track and now we’re looking to do the next $300,000 to do the carpets and HVAC system control upgrades.”

School Committee Chair Bob Halla said it was a “no-brainer” to approve the loans and the vote passed with little discussion.

The committee also approved the use of $30,000 of School Choice money to buy new kitchen equipment for the cafeteria, which Modestow said is severely lacking.

“It’s in tough shape,” Modestow said. “If your kids ever say they get pancakes in a bag, it’s because they don’t have equipment to cook pancakes.”

The money will go toward purchasing a “flat grill, tilt skillet, bowl chopper and dishwasher,” as Modestow said the school has often overlooked cafeteria equipment.

“We for years have not properly looked at what was going on in that kitchen,” Modestow said. “We need to start investing some money in that kitchen.”

Modestow also highlighted the roof and tennis courts as areas that will need to be funded soon. Early roof estimates are more than $3 million while the courts are roughly $170,000.

“Our tennis courts are almost unplayable,” Modestow said. “You could drop some change and lose a few bucks with the size of those cracks.”

He said the abundance of necessary repairs is to be expected because of the Main Street building’s age.

“Those are some big things to swallow,” Modestow said. “There’s a lot of work ahead. It’s capital improvement on a 23-year-old building.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.