Frontier School Committee OKs $1.2M in capital projects

  • Frontier Regional School District School Committee Chair Bob Hall assesses the school’s boiler after it sprung a leak in March 2022. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • The Frontier Regional School District School Committee approved repair and replacement projects of the school’s tennis courts, boilers and sections of the roof during its Tuesday meeting. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 01, 2023

SOUTH DEERFIELD — With the School Committee’s approval last month, Frontier Regional School will undertake more than $1.2 million in capital projects over the next two years.

The School Committee unanimously approved the appropriation of $850,000 to rehabilitate Frontier’s tennis courts and replace the school’s boilers, which experienced a leak last year and may be unable to maintain the building temperature if below-zero temperatures move into the region. The committee also OK’d a $400,000 bond anticipation note to fund the first phase of a roof repair project.

Superintendent Darius Modestow said the school will be funding each of these projects, except for a $100,000 request split between the four towns for resurfacing the tennis courts, to avoid affecting each community’s free cash reserves. Based on each town’s assessment this year, the school will request $16,463 from Conway, $48,683 from Deerfield, $23,432 from Sunderland and $11,411 from Whately. The towns can choose to pay in any way, although the Capital Improvement Subcommittee, which features Select Board members from each town, hinted at using Community Preservation Act money throughout the project.

“If you’re going to get it from CPA, ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) or the cookie jar, we don’t care,” said; School Committee member William Smith.

Broken down, the tennis court project is expected to cost $350,000, and the school will use excess and deficiency and School Choice money to pay for it. The boilers are estimated at $500,000, not including engineering or installation costs, and School Choice will also be used to pay for that.

Business Administrator Shelley Poreda said the school is holding $1.9 million in School Choice funding — “higher than ever in the history of this school” — and there’s a good cushion to undertake these projects with that money. The estimates for these projects also include contingency money in the case of high material or labor costs.

The roof project, which is expected to take at least five years, will be conducted in phases and has a variable price tag depending on what material the School Committee chooses to use. The choice comes down to whether the project is conducted with a thicker material, with an expected lifespan of 30 years, or with a thinner material that would likely last for 20 years.

For the first phase, the School Committee chose the 30-year lifespan material, which has an estimated price of $574,700, to cover the 19,800-square-foot section above the locker rooms, where leaks have been occurring.

“The whole roof doesn’t need to be done immediately; however, we do have failing sections,” Modestow explained. “We are leaking every year and we try to patch those leaks annually.”

The school will use up to $400,000 of its bond anticipation note and will ask the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education if it can use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief money — money set aside by the federal government during the pandemic — to fund the remaining $175,000 as needed.

Modestow said the tennis courts are expected to go out to bid “almost immediately” with the hope that work can be done this summer or fall. The boilers are also expected to go out to bid this winter, depending on estimates and planning, and also may be installed over the summer. The roof, however, is expected to go out to bid in the fall, with repair and replacement work taking place in the summer of 2024.

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