Canton Central spending $15m on renovation project

Hugh C. Williams Senior High School, Canton Central School District. Photo: Lizette Haenel

Hugh C. Williams Senior High School, Canton Central School District. Photo: Lizette Haenel

You may have heard on our air or read at that the Canton Central School District has had some money problems over the last couple years; more recently, the district has been considering a merger with Potsdam Central. It’s had to eliminate more than 50 staff members, and has been looking at much bigger class sizes and cuts to student activities.

It’s always slightly surprising when you read about an organization that’s in financial trouble spending money, even if the spending is from an entirely different budget — and so it was when I read this morning in the Watertown Daily Times that Canton Central is spending $15 million on a number of renovation projects throughout its complex. But it turns out the state is covering 89 percent of the costs of this project, so it’s not quite as surprising as one might have anticipated.

Some of the projects are urgent and necessary, like asbestos remediation in McKenney Middle Schoool, which Superintendent William Gregory told the paper is proving to be much more extensive — and expensive — than expected. Other projects are explicitly forward-looking, says Gregory:

Keeping the school building complex in updated condition also places the Canton district in a strong position as it looks to the possibility of merging with Potsdam Central School or other area schools.

‘It positions us to have an updated facility that could accommodate several hundred additional students should some form of merger or consolidation eventually occur,’ Mr. Gregory said.

Such projects include a new computer lab, bathrooms that will now be in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, updated sports facilities, and changes to make the buildings safer and more secure.

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6 Comments on “Canton Central spending $15m on renovation project”

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  1. Peter Klein says:

    Asbestos remediation has wasted more money than anyone has dared to count.

  2. Sunshine says:

    Even though the state is paying for a huge chunck of this project…the money still comes from the taxpayer. And if the local money comes from a different budget than the budget for salaries, etc., it seems more like a matter of semantics than of budgets…and it is still taxpayers $’s.
    Why do we think if the state or the feds are paying for it, it is ‘free’?
    These construction projects unfailing cost a great deal more than projected.
    Does CCS really need a new turf on the football field? Couldn’t those $’s employ a teacher or two or three whose position(s) will otherwise be eliminated?
    And will the newly paved school roadway/curbs encourage or discourage vehicles rate of speed?
    Seems like Canton is putting the cart before the horse. What if the merger doesn’t happen? What if it is decided that Potsdam is better suited for a merger location? What if a new, consolidated school district is built? Have these questions been considered/answered?
    Where is BOCES imput in all this consolidation/merger question?
    I would like to see NCPR do more in-depth coverage of what is happening to our school systems.
    Get opinions from business folks who must needs watch their budgets. Schedule county-wide school meetings to begin to address the issues at hand. Talk with the state and the feds.
    The fact is, school student population has decreased dramatically these past number of years and I assume this decrease in student numbers trend will continue. Shouldn’t we look at those projections to assist in the decision-making?
    How many students must a school have enrolled in order to function? How many teachers/staff can be cut before the education process in any given school fails completely?
    At what point does the state come in and take over and make these tough decisions because our school systems have not done their research/work and our students are failing?
    We need more state imput, more consideration, more pondering, more ideas, more reality and concrete plans instead of maybe’s and what if’s.

  3. Paul says:

    What they are doing sounds completely reasonable. That is the problem with any publicly funded thing you are always getting second guessed to death.

  4. Sunshine says:

    Paul, If you take your hard-earned $’s and go to a car dealership, you don’t let her/him tell you what car you should buy, how much you should pay for it and take her/his word. You ask questions, you take it for a test drive, you go home and think about it, you may ask your family/friends for their opinions and then you make a decision.
    The reno work being done at CCS is no different. Alas, the taxpayers in Canton didn’t ask many questions…we relied on our leaders to be fair and honest. I’m not saying they weren’t or aren’t, I’m saying the questions need to be asked.
    Comments like yours is a form of bullying…put the questioner down…don’t give them answers. Try to make them feel stupid or incompetent for asking.
    Deep thinking is always better than general, uninformed acceptance.

  5. SDM says:

    There is no turf field going down, the sod is being replaced. Any of the monies for this project are not available for use to pay teachers. It’s a completely different pot of money, either it’s used for building projects or not used at all.

    I would encourage you to attend board meetings to have your questions answered. Most of this information was provided throughout the school year and at the joint board meeting with Potsdam. Additional information regarding the merger study process will also be available at future community meetings – check both district websites.

  6. The truth is out there. says:

    Sunshine, I must disagree with some, albeit not all, of what you are saying. I absolutely agree that there are questions that have not been answered, and far too many variables to be considered to know whether the full scope of work planned at CCS is justified.

    Here’s where I disagree with you: To use Paul’s comment as an example of bullying is a stretch. The definition of bullying is “to use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.” I don’t see that kind of intent in Paul’s comment whatsoever. I can’t agree with Paul’s assessment that all of the planned work at CCS is reasonable – perhaps it is, perhaps it isn’t. I don’t see, though, where he was putting anyone down or refusing anyone answers. He was merely stating an opinion. That, to me, is not bullying. Seems to me that bullying is a hot button topic these days, and it’s term that is too freely bandied about.

    Just my $0.02.

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