ICC voters have say on $7M upgrade proposal

KINDERHOOK–Voters who live in the Ichabod Crane  Central School District will go to the polls Wednesday, December 12 to decide the fate of a $7-million capital improvement proposal. Administration officials have stressed that the project is structured so that it will not increase property taxes.

Interim Superintendent Lee Bordick used a special meeting Wednesday, November 28 to discuss details of the proposal that will be presented to district residents as a referendum next Wednesday. And again Tuesday, December 4, his last regular board meeting as superintendent, Mr. Bordick renewed his call to community members to come out and vote on the referendum.

At this week’s meeting board members praised Mr. Bordick for guiding them through tough financial times, which included closing two school buildings, negotiating two union contracts with the teacher and the CSEA and helping to put together this construction project proposal. “The budget was just a nightmare and you make it not so much a nightmare,” said Board President Anthony Welcome.
“It’s been an unexpected, wonderful experience,” said Mr. Bordick of his two and half years in the district.
The project that will be one of his legacies at the ICC District if voters approve the measure includes $1.2 million in technology upgrades, $750,000 for a new gym, $361,000 in upgrades for the high school library, $525,000 for high school locker room upgrades, resurfacing the track for $156,000 and an additional $162,000 for other items like upgrades to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and infrastructure repairs on the all three buildings in the district.
Several board members, as well as the project’s architect Eric Tomosky from Bearsch Compeau Knudson, Architects and Engineers PC, the district business manager Michael Brennan and district’s financial consultants attended the November meeting. A handful of community members and students also attended and a few asked questions about the funding and the project, which the district plans to pay for through loans and $2 million in cash from savings and reserves.
Mr. Bordick explained that the cash part for the payment for the project comes from $800,000 in savings from last year’s budget, much of it from an insurance settlement that favored the district. The board will also use $400,000 from another insurance settlement in this year’s budget, and $500,000 in a reserve fund that must be used for capital projects.
The final piece of the $2 million the district is putting toward the project is $550,000 from the sale of the Martin Van Buren School to gallery owner Jack Shainman. The district and Mr. Shainman are in the process of finalizing the sale. The money made from the sale of a school building can only be used to pay off debt in the district and may not be added to the general fund.
Mr. Bordick has said the project will have no tax impact on residents because the district is keeping the costs within the $7-million budget. The district plans to borrow $5 million through bonds to pay for the rest of the project, and Mr. Bordick said that the state building aid for the project should be 73%.
As he has in the past, Mr. Bordick emphasized last week that the $2 million for the project is one-time revenue that should be used for a one-time expense like a construction project. Mr. Bordick said if the district used the settlement money to pay for a school program or to reduce the overall tax levy, residents would only see that savings for one year and the funds would not be available again the next year.
He said this project is separate from the 2013-14 school year budget the board will start discussing in January with a new superintendent, George Zini, who also attended special meeting. “Our budgets are pretty strong today,” said Mr. Bordick of the 2012-13 school budget. He said any increase in the budget for next year wouldn’t be the result of the proposed improvement project on the ballot December 12.
He also talked about the district’s need to upgrade the 11-year-old servers and other technology. “This is not a spur of the moment conversation,” he said of the issues that made the construction list, including asbestos remediation at the primary school. The decision on what to work would be done came from a five-year facilities study submitted to the state.
Board member Susan Ramos pointed out that because of state building aid that will be paid to the district over 15 years for the project, the district’s $2 million investment is worth 73% more.
“You are getting the best bang,” said Mr. Bordick.
The special election with the referendum on the upgrade project as the only item on the ballot will be held Wednesday December 12 at the high school. Voting takes place from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the high school gym.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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