New Castle News

December 29, 2012

Top 10 Stories, Number 3: Lockley project proceeds, superintendent talks delayed

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A blowup over plans for the Lockley school project in October prompted New Castle’s superintendent to submit his retirement letter.

Since then, the board has relented and approved the project, but is being reticent about its plans to replace George J. Gabriel when his tenure ends Jan. 31.

Several members had opposed the school project and were against the district taking on the debt. However, they reconsidered after they learned, after to voting it down, that the financing package could cause the district to lose about $9 million if it did not proceed.

More than a million already had been paid to the architect and for other costs associated with the planning for the Lockley Early Learning Center.

The members have delayed talks on hiring a new superintendent until their next meeting in January.

Board president David DiGiammarino said after the last meeting that the delay was because the board was waiting for the new president to take over and give direction.

Discussions surrounding Gabriel’s post are to come at the board’s public work session Jan. 14.

Meanwhile, work on the $19 million worth of construction of the early learning center is getting under way. The total project, including fees and non-construction-related costs, is expected to total $22.9.

“There’s quite a bit of activity going on there right now,” Gabriel said last week. “They’re gutting out the old building, removing walls, partitions and tile from the floor. One wing has asbestos and is sealed off and they are proceeding with asbestos abatement.”

Beginning Wednesday, the excavation, clearing, tree-cutting and site preparation is to begin to make way for building construction, driveways and parking lots, Gabriel said.

Schedule-wise, he said, the renovation part of the project will take place simultaneously with new wing construction.