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Indian River may expand Evans Mills Primary School

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PHILADELPHIA — If the Army decides to bring 3,000 more troops to Fort Drum, Indian River Central School will be ready.

The Board of Education informally approved adding 10 classrooms to Evans Mills Primary School.

Board members Robin R. Johnson and Elnora M. Durgin voted against the extra classrooms at Evans Mills, favoring an addition at Philadelphia Primary School or Calcium Primary School to support an influx of as many as 1,000 or more students. Board member Thomas L. Lapp was absent.

The district has 4,159 students.

“That would be the last place I would build onto,” Ms. Durgin said. “It’s such a congested area.”

She said adding the classrooms onto the school would create problems later if the district needed more primary classroom space.

In addition to the classroom additions, the board is looking to expand the Indian River Intermediate School’s cafeteria and will explore adding a wind turbine and solar field on district property for an upcoming capital construction project.

After the meeting, Superintendent James Kettrick said the effect of sequestration — across-the-board federal cuts — resulted in an immediate $998,000 loss in federal Impact Aid.

He said there also would be losses of $100,000 in title funds and Individual Disabilities Education Act funds.

He said because the district budgeted accordingly, there will be no problems for the upcoming school years and it will not affect the pending capital construction project.

The project’s referendum likely will be in the fall or winter, but bids would not go out until the following year, after the Army determines whether there will be a change in post troop strength.

“Eight thousand soldiers out of here returns us to 2003,” said Business Manager James R. Koch.

He pointed out building a new school would only generate about 50 percent aid from the state because classroom space — not cafeterias, auditoriums, hallways, windows or bathrooms — drive aid.

However, he predicted most new families will move into Calcium Primary’s area.

“The soldiers have expressed a desire to be within five miles of work,” he said. “That puts them in Calcium. Ten miles appears to be the breaking point, so Watertown is also a viable area.”

With the classroom additions at Evans Mills, Mr. Koch said an additional 32 parking spaces will be added.

He said a sketch of the proposed chances will be brought to the board at the May 16 meeting.

Board member Donald Brumfield said the parking passage widened because it is too narrow and close to the sidewalk.

“That’s an accident waiting to happen,” he said.

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