The Buffalo School Board has decided to hire a local architectural firm to do a feasibility study and preliminary design for the proposed Medical Campus High School.
But there is still some confusion as to whether that school will open in time for the 2014-15 school year as originally planned.
Board member John Licata, who last year introduced the idea of creating the school, said that without building aid from the state Education Department, it would cost the district about $6 million to make upgrades to the vacant School 8 building at Masten Avenue and East Utica Street. The state already has informed the district it will not get building aid for School 8.
“That’s a pretty high price tag for us,” Licata said.
Given that, there was no reason to move forward with the feasibility study, Licata said.
The study, to be done by Young & Wright Architectural on Seneca Street, would determine if the program could be properly housed at School 8 and the potential costs associated with running it.
Licata suggested the $49,762 contract for the study be withdrawn because it was unlikely the school would open by fall.
“My feeling was to pull it and not spend the money,” he said. “Pull the feasibility study while we’re still trying to figure out funding.”
That would also give school officials more time to plan.
But Superintendent Pamela C. Brown refused to withdraw the contract, saying school officials need to have “further discussion as to whether School 8 will be used for the program.”
There is also a deadline associated with the decision. The board has to apply to the state for a new code for the school by March 12.
Brown also said that the district would not spend “$50,000 without some verification from the state that the building can be opened” this fall and used to house the school.
It’s possible the district can get a federal grant called Youth Career Connect to help pay for some of the costs at School 8. The district applied for $4.9 million over 54 months, said Margaret Boorady, chief of school leadership.
School officials will find out April 1 if the district will be awarded the grant. If so, the medical high school could be back on track for opening this fall, Licata said.
Whenever it does start, the new school will offer career courses in medical laboratory, health information technology and health facility management. About 250 ninth- and 10th-graders would be housed at the school. Students would get first aid and CPR training. In addition, many would go on to do apprenticeships at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in their junior and senior years.
The long-term goal is to place the school right on the Medical Campus, Licata said. A couple of sites have been proposed, though he would not say specifically what they are.
The school will be based on open enrollment, Boorady said.