The next phase of the massive building renovation effort within the Buffalo School District will proceed with strong assistance from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

The economic development agency's directors, Monday morning, agreed to work with the school district on the third phase of the on-going building renovation initiative. The third phase is expected to see a price tag approaching $300 million -- roughly one-third of the nearly $1 billion, decade-long effort -- to renovate or rebuild 80 properties in the district.

Nine buildings were renovated or rebuilt in the first phase and another 13 are being renovated in the current construction phase.

The ECIDA's role is to serve as the bonding pass-through agency. Under state statute the district can't bond the projects itself and must go through the Joint Schools Construction Board, which is overseeing the project. The ECIDA has a stronger bond market rating than the board and has been able to save the school district millions of dollars in financing costs.

At the same time, with the school district looking at a projected $46 million funding shortfall in phase three work, it is looking to save as much money as possible while leaving the hard dollars for the actual construction work.

To that end, Gary Crosby, Buffalo school's chief financial officer, asked the ECIDA if it would be willing to negotiate a lower administrative fee for the next phase of work.