Master Plan Development Included In Proposed Capital Project

Submitted article

In addition to building-specific efforts, Hannibal Central School District’s proposed $26.9 million facilities improvement plan includes several items that are intended to provide district-wide benefits, according to school officials.

The Hannibal Board of Education recently approved the plan, which is set to go before voters Nov. 4.  It was developed after two years of efforts to maximize opportunities available under the district’s Expanding our Children’s Education and Learning (EXCEL) aid that was received during the 2006-07 state funding cycle.

Hannibal was awarded $1,298,070 under the state’s EXCEL initiative. By building a project that fits within five spending categories, Hannibal is able to use its EXCEL allocation to meet its local share obligation for the project, according to business administrator Nancy Henner.

Coupled with a 98 percent state reimbursement rate on capital projects, the proposed plan will come with no local cost to taxpayers, Henner said.

At the top of the list for district-wide site items, Superintendent Michael DiFabio explained that the project calls for the development of a preliminary site master plan that will:

Determine the ability to provide parking areas adjacent to athletic fields that includes the proper placement and size with appropriate walk-ways that are fully handicapped accessible under guidelines established through the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Determine the ability to provide a one-way campus connector drive to connect Auburn Street and Cayuga Street, including site improvements such as fencing, gates, retaining walls and walk-ways.

By creating a one-way campus connector drive for bus and service traffic, DiFabio explained that the district would be able to alleviate congestion at the State Route 104 intersections at both Auburn and Cayuga Streets.

“A roadway connecting all of our buildings would create a closed campus,” DiFabio said. “That would create significant improvements in safety for our students, our bus drivers and our community.”

DiFabio pointed out that the district is not sure at this time if a campus roadway is a possibility.

“Because we haven’t hired a traffic expert to even begin the assessment, we are not sure what the outcome will be,” he said. “Ultimately, we can’t spend the money for the study unless the voters say ‘yes’ to the project.”

“Upon a positive vote from the community, we would be authorized to hire someone to begin the study,” DiFabio said.

In addition to a parking area, DiFabio pointed out that several site items within the plan focus on upgrades at the district’s athletic fields.

“Hannibal works hard to offer a strong athletic program for our students, who practice and compete to the best of their abilities as representatives of our school district,” DiFabio said. “Our fields often act as an obstacle to those efforts, however. Wet fields make it especially difficult for our athletes to practice and compete in their sport.”

Because of budgetary constraints, DiFabio pointed out that efforts to enhance extra-curricular activities are often pushed down the list of priorities.

“This funding has given us an opportunity to address some of these needs without asking for taxpayer financial support,” DiFabio said. ”

To improve drainage from fields, the improvement plan calls for the installation of diversion drainage pipe, structures and under drains where necessary. The district will also re-crown fields for appropriate cross pitch and slit drains. Soil studies, turf analysis, and pipe inspections will be conducted, as well as a review of the existing drainage system and surface grades for design recommendations.

Lastly, the existing wooden press box at the athletic field will be removed and replaced with a new press box, which will be installed onto the existing bleacher structure.

“The district has made every effort to address as many needs as possible as we developed this project,” Henner said. “Because so much of our need fits into the EXCEL spending categories, we have been able to put together a project that will bring far reaching benefits to our students without relying on taxpayer financial support. It is a win-win situation for everyone.”

To prepare for the vote, the district is releasing a series of news articles to explain elements of the project. Several informational sessions are also planned, in addition to the development of a project matrix that will be available in all three school buildings that break the project down by building and cost.  An informational session is planned for 7 p.m., Oct. 14 at the Fairley Elementary Cafeteria; another session will begin at 7 p.m., Oct. 23 at the Kenney Middle School Cafeteria.

The vote will be held from noon to 9 p.m., Nov. 4 in the Board of Education room at the Hannibal High School. Any questions about the project can be directed to DiFabio or Henner at 564-7900. Information about the vote is also available on the district Web site at