Residents to decide on 21st-century instructional & infrastructure upgrades, Oct. 23
Community Forum, Oct. 10; presentations at public meetings begin Sept. 10
Residents are being asked to go to the polls on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 to vote on a proposed $34 million renovation project that would continue the improvements begun with the voter-approved 2013 Building Our 2nd Century referendum by remaining focused on upgrading and modernizing the district’s aging facilities.
The proposed referendum would fund 21 projects that the Board of Education has chosen as the district’s most urgent needs based upon studies and recommendations from two Capital Project Committees. Committee #1 was comprised of internal staff and school leaders who assessed and conducted a year-long study of the district’s facilities. Committee #2 was comprised of more than 35 people, including community members, staff and students, who volunteered to meet twice a month for six months to review studies, tour district buildings, listen to presentations, ask questions, discuss what they learned and saw, prioritize project needs, and consider tax impact scenarios to help them put together a recommendation for the board of education.
“We have made great progress in the past five years, but we have more work to do transform our schools into 21st century facilities,” says Superintendent Patrick McGrath. “This proposal, roughly the same size as the 2013 project, will finish major work that has been identified as necessary to bring our buildings and classrooms up to an appropriate 21st century level for our students.”
“In many ways this proposal is a continuation of the 2013 Building Our 2nd Century referendum, or part two of two,” adds McGrath.
The projects in the Building Our 2nd Century II proposal are a continuation of improvements that began in 2013, and are focused on upgrading, modernizing and repairing the district’s aging facilities. They are categorized into the following four areas:
- Continuation of 21st-century Learning Needs ($3.32 million). This includes upgrading outdated classrooms districtwide into 21st-century classrooms to better integrate technology, renovating/modernizing the Business & FACS classrooms in the high school (one of the oldest, most outdated sections of the school), renovating/upgrading Stevens and Charlton Heights Elementary School gyms, renovating the Pashley library to be more relevant to today’s learning style, replacing cracked and crumbled wall coverings and worn out padding in the middle school back gym, installing a running track at Pashley Elementary School (no local tax impact) to replace the dirt track, and resurfacing the cracked and deteriorated tennis courts at the high school.
- O’Rourke Middle School Safety, Security & Classroom Improvements ($6.22 million). This includes constructing a new main entrance with a secure entry vestibule and other safety features; relocating the school’s main office and guidance, social worker and psychologist offices to space closer to the new main entrance; relocating the outdated special education rooms (currently in space that will become the main office) to newly renovated areas in the sixth-grade hallway; renovating the current main office space into 21st-century classrooms; and renovating/modernizing the out-of-date technology classrooms (metal and wood).
- High School Auditorium Renovation ($9.69 million). It is being proposed to do an extensive renovation to the high school auditorium, which was built in 1955, to bring it up to date and modernized. This includes new seating and increasing audience seating to approximately 1,000, building a balcony with additional seating, replacing existing seats, adding air conditioning, upgrading the audio and lighting systems, replacing the outdated audio panel with a new sound booth with state-of-the-art technology; upgrading the walls with proper acoustical treatments, installing new carpeting, adding ambient floor/aisle and audience lighting, replacing the stage curtain, widening the stage opening and upgrading the stage floor, heightening the stage fly space (where backdrop scenery hangs) and improving the outdated fly system (the mechanism that raises and lowers scenery), installing a stage lighting gallery to extend from the balcony, and upgrading technology capacities to allow for live video streaming of performances.
- Critical Infrastructure Improvements Districtwide, Including a New Transportation Building ($14.85 million). This includes upgrading electrical and plumbing systems districtwide; replacing/repairing the oldest and most deteriorated areas in our 11 acres of roofing; renovating bathrooms in the worst condition districtwide upgrading HVAC systems in the high school gym and chorus room; reconfiguring and repaving the Charlton Heights Elementary School front parking lot to allow for a safer student drop-off and pick-up zone and additional visitor parking; upgrading the high school girls locker room shower area including new showers, upgrading some of the oldest kitchen equipment districtwide, and constructing a new transportation building ($7.65 million) to replace the original 1957 garage (built for a 10-bus fleet) that has become too small and is in danger of becoming inadequate for the maintenance of the district’s 70-bus fleet. The new building would be constructed on the same site as the garage is currently located (Lakehill Road).
Funding the Building Our 2nd Century II Capital Project
School officials anticipate that approximately 95 percent of the Building Our 2nd Century II proposal of $34 million will be eligible for New York state building aid with nearly 74 percent of the cost of those aidable expenses (about $24 million) scheduled to be reimbursed to the district by the state.
To further reduce the financial impact on local residents, the Board of Education will apply funds from the recent sale of Jenkins Road property (approximately $730,000) toward the local share of the project. (Please note: The planned construction of new homes on this property will further decrease the tax impact on the local share.) Additionally, the Pashley PTA is donating $100,000 to the district to be used to fund the entire estimated local share of installing a new running track at that school to replace the current dirt track.
It is estimated that after building aid, the local share of the project would be approximately $9.17 million.
The capital project is estimated to have a 1.62 percent tax levy impact that would be phased in over five years and begin in the 2019-20 school year. For the owner of a home with a full market value of $200,000, this would mean a one-time estimated tax increase totaling $68 which would be phased in over five years. The cost would be less for seniors who are eligible for Enhanced STAR Savings and/or qualify for the low income senior citizen exemption.
A detailed Capital Project newsletter complete with architectural drawings and renderings will be mailed to residents in early October.
Learn more about the proposed Building Our 2nd Century II project at the Capital Project Community Forum on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m., BH-BL High School Spartan Center or at other upcoming public meetings:
Capital Project Presentations at Public Meetings
- High School PTSA Meeting: Monday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m., Principal’s Conference Room
- BH-BL Friends of Music Meeting: Tuesday, Sept. 11, 7 p.m., HS Library
- Grade 6 Back-to-School Night: Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m.
- Grades 7 & 8 Back-to-School Night: Thursday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m.
- Grades K-2 Back-to-School Night: Monday, Sept. 17 at 6:45 p.m.
- Grades 3-5 Back-to-School Night: Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 6:45 p.m.
- Charlton Seniors Group: Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 9 a.m., at BH-BL HS
- HS PTSA Freshmen Parents Welcome: Thursday, Sept. 27 at 6:15 p.m.
- Stevens PTA Meeting: Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m., Library
- BPA Meeting: Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 5:30 p.m., BH-BL HS Lower Cafeteria
- Community Forum: Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the BH-BL High School Spartan Center
- Pashley PTA Meeting: Thursday, Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m., Library
- Charlton Heights PTA Meeting: Thursday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m., Library
- O’Rourke Middle School PTA Meeting: Monday, Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m., Library
If you are unable to attend any of these meetings but have questions or would like Superintendent McGrath to present at a community or neighborhood meeting, please contact the Superintendent’s Office at 518-399-9141, ext. 85002.