Bemus Point Eyes Elementary School Renovations

The Bemus Point Central School Board visited the newly installed makerspace room within the middle and high school building. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

BEMUS POINT — With plans to renovate the elementary school, the Bemus Point Central School District Board of Education hosted the architecture firm Clark Patterson Lee at its meeting Monday.

Superintendent Michael Mansfield said the district began looking at the potential for a possible project last spring. The district is focusing on the elementary school because the last capital project primarily impacted the middle and high school.

“We worked with our facilities people and our five-year plan and looked at what we needed to do (at the elementary school) with our architect to come up with our initial scope we’ve started to whittle down,” Mansfield said.

Robert Nordin, principal associate at Clark Patterson Lee, gave a presentation to the board and community members in attendance during the meeting. The project, as it stands now, totals $2.4 million, almost $400,000 over what the district can budget for, Mansfield said.

“We’re still looking at ways that we can pull some of it out of there because we’re a little over the cap (to maintain) a zero tax increase (for the 2019-20 school budget),” he said.

Mansfield maintained the goal for the project is to update the elementary school while remaining under the state allowed tax cap. The project will primarily focus on facility upgrades like heating, plumbing and roof replacement.

“Those are the big ticket items,” Mansfield said. “It’s just maintaining the building.”

In other news, the superintendent reported to the board about ongoing consideration of changing school start times and the impact it would have on the student population. Mansfield said he’s been paying attention to sleep research for the past several years and wants to continue to take a look at how it can impact students. He cited various research studies that indicated the middle and high school aged students would benefit from a later start date, while elementary school aged students would benefit from an earlier start.

The district has a specific bus run for middle and high school students and then another bus run for the elementary students. Mansfield said it would be feasible to flip the start time, but other factors have to be considered.

“Flipping the start times, based on research, is definitely the best thing for our students,” he said.

The middle and high school start at 7:50 a.m. with a bus run occurring prior. The elementary school starts at 8:50 a.m. with the second bus run occurring just before.

Mansfield admitted extensive planning and dialogue with the community would have to take place in order to commit to a start time change. Academic and family schedules have to be considered before a shift can occur, he said.

“We really need to get everyone’s input,” he said.

Mansfield was optimistic that if the proper “bases were covered,” he’d like to implement a start-time change next fall.

After the meeting, the board visited the newly implemented makerspace room. The makerspace room is a collaborative and creative space for students often found in schools and community libraries. The district’s makerspace room is apart of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Music program.

“We’ve been looking at that as part of our STEM program for a number of years,” Mansfield said.

An exploratory period was implemented for the middle school at the beginning of the school year that pairs with the newly finished makerspace room. The period allows middle school students the opportunity to be creative with regards to STEM without the pressure of an official grade. Mansfield was also hopeful that the middle and high school could utilize the room fro cross-curricular projects as part of several different courses.

“It would fit any curriculum,” he said.