by Mary Fox
Last Thursday, Sept. 17, Ellicottville Central School Superintendent Mark Ward, along with members of the ECS Board of Education, took residents of the district on a tour of the school’s facilities.
The tour began in the renovated high school wing, which was gutted and modernized in 2005 with a new, state-of-the-art library (the center of the school for grades 7-12) including air conditioning and computers for student use. Lab rooms and classrooms were updated along with new furniture, larger hall lockers, new terrazzo floors and wider hallways.
One small storage room contains $50,000 or more of Buffalo Bills exercise equipment given to the school. Used occasionally, it is awaiting a place in the gym area.
The new middle school classrooms added in 2005, between the high school and elementary gyms, revealed more state of the art equipment in the art room and a distance learning room containing $50,000–$75,000 of high-tech equipment that was donated by BOCES.
A Building Conditions Survey of the older parts built in 1962 and 1988 revealed many areas in need of remodeling, renovating or updating.
Ward pointed out that the high school/middle school gym is the hub of the school.
“We won’t even suggest an auditorium, but the gym could be reconfigured to have a stage and be used differently to enhance all the things we do – concerts, assemblies, graduation, tests, banquets – while still being a gym,” he said. “The high school cafeteria was built in 1962 and has not been updated since. It is not designed to meet our present needs.”
The most desperate needs are in the locker rooms, and band and chorus rooms. The rooms are extremely crowded and the lockers are 1962 originals, which are too small and in poor shape. The rooms also lack proper lighting and need new ceilings.
The band room is extremely crowded with 65 high school students in the band crammed into the small space. The chorus room does not allow space for the risers to be placed properly. They both have ventilation issues, antiquated equipment and need new carpeting.
The old classrooms and home economics room built in 1962 need major updating. All have only two electrical outlets and the asbestos tiles need to be replaced.
“We don’t want to create new space. We just want to reconfigure what we have,” Ward stressed several times during the walk-through.
In the elementary wing built in 1988, there is an issue with the rubber-based flooring in the cafeteria/gym. The room’s use is split, functioning as the elementary gym and a lunchroom, making it very labor intensive. There are also ventilation and moisture issues in the elementary wing.
On the grounds, better lighting is needed on the sports field. The current lights were donated in 1977 in memory of Frank Pitillo.
Following the walk-through, a discussion was held regarding financing.
Ward said, “We can’t say what we are going to do and how much it will cost. We need input of ideas to make sure it is the best possible project for the community.”
Another meeting will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. in the high school library. Ward extended an open invitation to anyone in the community to serve on a committee to pursue this project. You can contact him at the school by calling (716) 699-2368.