Lowville Academy’s $11m capital project nearing completion, auditorium opening soon

STEVE VIRKLER / JOHNSON NEWSPAPERS Contractors work in the Lowville Academy and Central School auditorium. It is scheduled to reopen after the Christmas break.

STEVE VIRKLER / JOHNSON NEWSPAPERS
Contractors work in the Lowville Academy and Central School auditorium. It is scheduled to reopen after the Christmas break.

By STEVE VIRKLER
SVIRKLER@LOWVILLE.COM

Lowville Academy and Central School District’s $11 million capital project is winding down, with the sounds of music expected to return to the school auditorium following Christmas break.

“The end is in sight,” District Superintendent Cheryl R. Steckly said.

Much of the work on the project, which kicked off in summer 2015, was completed before school started in the fall. However, the auditorium has been off-limits as contractors used wall-to-wall scaffolding to install a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in its upper recesses.

The scaffolding has now been removed, and new aisle lighting, carpeting, boom lighting and curtains are to be installed by the end of break, which should allow teachers and students to begin using it again on Jan. 3, Mrs. Steckly said.

“We’ll be happy to have it finished,” she said.

In the interim, school musical programs have been held at the Town Hall Theater on Shady Avenue and in the school gymnasiums, while all the district’s Christmas concerts were held on a single night in the main gymnasium.

“People were extremely flexible and creative,” Mrs. Steckly said.

While the completed auditorium won’t look appreciably different after the renovations, the biggest change will be noticed in the warmer months with the addition of air conditioning to the large assembly room, she said.

“I think people will appreciate the difference in comfort with the new HVAC unit,” Mrs. Steckly said.

The district has also added air conditioning in its main gymnasium, although that is to be used mainly for large events like grandparent’s day, special concerts and graduation ceremonies, not for gym classes, she said.

The largest piece of the project was replacement of most of the roofs on the kindergarten-through-grade 12 building and other district buildings in the wake of leaking issues a couple years ago.

That work was completed recently with reroofing of the area over the weight room, and brick work and louvre screening around a new generator is now being finished, Mrs. Steckly said.

Other work completed over the summer included replacement of HVAC systems in several areas, a switch to LED lighting for energy efficiency, resurfacing of tennis courts, addition of a large freezer just outside the cafeteria and creation of a concession stand at the rear of the school near the athletic fields.

Installation of new tiles in the tunnels to the pool and creation of a roof overhang over the new concession stand will still need to be done after break, but “neither one of those things will be invasive,” she said.

Mrs. Steckly commended students, staff and community members for their patience and understanding throughout the two-year capital project.

“There are always interruptions and inconveniences,” she said. “We’ve tried to minimize them the best we could.”

State aid is expected to cover 89.2 percent of project costs, while the local share is being covered with $161,106 in leftover state Expanding Our Children’s Education and Learning aid and up to $1.5 million from the district’s capital reserve fund.