2023 Capital Project Q&A

When was our last capital project vote?

The last capital project vote the district held was in 2018. Every five years since 1983, BH-BL asks residents to vote on a referendum that includes projects focused on renovating, maintaining, and improving the condition of district facilities. These projects typically relate to the critical infrastructure within school buildings such as roofing, flooring, HVAC systems, etc., as well as improvements and upgrades to the learning environment that support district academic initiatives. Much like a home, school buildings see wear and tear from daily activities as they age. If you consider the size of the district’s schools and the number of students served each year in the spaces (480 to 1,150 students), then you’ll have an idea of what happens to the schools.

“Regular moderate-sized projects help the district to address the normal aging of our buildings, keeping our facilities modern and our learning spaces up to date,” says Dr. Christopher Abdoo, Assistant Superintendent for Support Services and Capital Project Committee Co-Chair. “And, by financing projects in regular cycles, old debt is retired when new debt is incurred, minimizing the effect of construction on our residents’ tax rate.”

Are there tax savings?

The estimated tax impact for the proposed capital project is before STAR savings are applied. STAR is a New York state program that provides a discount on your school tax bill. The Basic STAR exemption is available on a homeowner’s primary residence for anyone who owns and lives in his/her own home and earns less than $500,000 a year. The Enhanced STAR exemption is available on the primary residence of a taxpayer age 65 or older with yearly incomes below $86,000.

How were these projects chosen?

The district began its capital project planning process nearly two years ago. A committee comprised of internal staff and school leaders was convened to assess and conduct a year-long study of the district’s facilities. Upon completion of the study, a second committee was formed and was comprised of more than 35 people, including community members, students, parents, staff, and school leaders who volunteered to meet twice a month for six months to review studies, tour all district buildings, listen to presentations and ask questions. The committee then met several more times to 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. The committee ultimately chose projects they felt needed immediate attention to ensure the buildings remain safe, in good working condition, and meet today’s learning needs. For a list of committee members, please visit the district website at www.bhbl.org.

Who are the  2023 Capital Project Committee members?

The Renovation Project Committee is composed of volunteers from all different interest groups, including community members, parents, students, teachers, staff, administrators, and board members. Their charge was to attend informational meetings that consisted of building tours and presentations by district teachers, administrators, supervisors, architects, and engineers. Based on the information gathered, they were asked to rank the proposed projects based on priority and needs.

“Each member brought a unique perspective and viewpoint to committee discussions that really helped the committee as a whole shape the aim and scope of the proposal they brought to the board,” says Dr. Abdoo, Committee Co-Chair.

Dr. Christopher Abdoo, Assistant Superintendent & Committee Co-Chair; James Ireland, High School Parent & Committee Co-Chair; Dr. Patrick McGrath, Superintendent; Dr. David Collins, Assistant Superintendent; David Barclay, Middle School Parent; Margaret Beaton, Middle School Parent; Miles Bechtel, High School Student; Brian Brewer, Community Member; Therese Brigham, Stevens Parent; Lisa Darling, Teaching Assistant; Chris Deso, Charlton Heights Teacher; Dan Diggins, BH-BL Director of Facilities; Megan Emerich, BH-BL HS Student; Kristi Fish, Pashley Teacher; Gerald Garing, Community Member; Susan Garrett, Community Member; Meghan Hinman, Charlton Heights Teacher; Cal Houghton, HS Parent; Cindy King, Pashley Teacher; Michael Mosall, High School Teacher; Lakshmi Nagarajan (ex-officio), School Board Member; Darcy Passarelli, BH-BL Special Education Assistant Director; Kristin Rider, High School Parent; James Robertson, Charlton Heights Parent; Randy Rose, Community Member; Matt Sargen, BH-BL Construction Manager; Kurt Semon, Middle School Teacher; Kristin Trapini, Middle School Teacher; Melissa Thomas, High School Teacher; Brad Thomas, High School Teacher; Sara Verga, Pashley Teacher; Matthew Waskiewicz, Pashley Parent; Katharine Weis, Stevens Teacher; and Tom Wheeler, Community Member