District foresees no new taxes for $7M upgrade

KINDERHOOK–A special steering committee of community members and district staff met last week to discuss the scope of a capital improvements project currently estimated to cost $9 million. Interim Schools Superintendent Lee Bordick hopes to whittle the cost down to $7 million and have the board approve the proposal by the end of this month.

If that timetable holds, the proposal would go to a referendum, with a special election held in December. At $7 million, school district officials say the district can pay for the project with one-time revenues and loans that should mean the district won’t have to raise taxes to cover the costs.

The project includes a replacement of asphalt in the parking lots, roof work at the high school, abatement of asbestos tiles in the Primary School, and general maintenance projects that have been put off. Architect Eric Tomosky from Bearsch Compeau Knudson, Architects and Engineers PC, said some of the funds will be used to repair or replace things that have already failed or are nearing the end of their useful life.

The district hired Bearsch Compeau Knudson (BCK) to design the project after working with the firm on other projects. Mr. Tomosky, who attended the October 9 meeting to answer questions, said that he and Steve Marotta, the district’s director of Operations and Facilities, drove around the buildings looking at projects that could be cut from the total to keep the total cost from exceeding $7 million.

Mr. Bordick told the board, “You have $10 million of needs,” but the steering committee has been asked to look at the list of projects and cut more, getting it down from $9 million to $7 million. Already cut was some of the roofing work, new windows in the middle school, and some upgrades to the bathrooms.

What has to be part of the project is $555,000 in technology upgrades. Juan Gonzalez, coordinator, informational technology, said the servers were last updated 11 years ago. “These items still spin the wheels,” he said, but he said they have capacity problems when many people are online at once. And soon the state will be mandating testing on computers that the district does not have.

“This really [is] what we need for our district now and what we think we need for the future,” said Mr. Gonzalez. There is about a total of $1.4 million allocated in the proposal for technology upgrades, including teaching tools like smart boards, LCD projectors and iMac computers made by Apple.

The plan also sets aside $750,000 for upgrades to the gym, which would not change the footprint of the current gym. Another $525,000 would go to upgrading the locker rooms and there would be upgrades to the High School Library costing $360,000.

A breakdown of the costs for the project is on the district website, www.ichabodcrane.org, which also details where the money to pay for the improvements would come from. The board received two healthcare settlements and has fund balance of over $1 million. It can also use the $550,000 received from the sale of the Martin Van Buren School in Kinderhook, as well as about half a million dollars in construction reserves to pay for the project. Additional funds would come from state aid available for school construction projects.

Mr. Bordick said keeping the project at $9 million would add about $50,000 a year in debt service. “It’s pennies,” he said of the cost per household in the district, but proposing a $7-million project, with no tax increase would be more palatable to taxpayers. Mr. Bordick said that in this economic climate is that it’s better to be conservative.

The board will vote on the project on October 23 at a special meeting at 7 p.m. at the Middle School. There will be a public forum on Wednesday November 28 and the vote is schedule to be December 12, 2012.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .



Comments are closed.