KINDERHOOK–School Superintendent George Zini discussed three options for expanding the over-crowded Primary School at this week’s Ichabod Crane School Board meeting. One plan would involve using two trailers as classrooms, another would be an addition of 4 classrooms to the school building, and the third would be a $2.3-million project that would include expanding the Primary School along with upgrades in the two other school buildings.
At the January 7 meeting, Mr. Zini stressed that none of these projects, including the $2.3-million upgrade, would result in higher school taxes. The district has $900,000 in its fund balance to pay for the project, which would also receive state school aid for about 73% of the costs, according to Mr. Zini. The board would still need to get voter approval for any construction plans and is hoping to hold the a referendum along with the annual budget vote in May.
Before a proposition goes to voters the board must decide which plan to adopt. Mr. Zini said the board would discuss the plans in detail at the next board meeting February 4. The board must approve a plan by late February to get it on the May ballot.
Mr. Zini said the most likely completion date of any construction project would not be until December 2015.
Board member Jeffrey Ouellette pointed out that overcrowding was an issue in the Primary School now, and asked if there was a faster solution. District Business Manager Michael Brennan said that approval for any construction project from the state Education Department (SED) can take up to six months. And Mr. Zini said that use of trailers would not make the process any faster since they also need SED approval.
The superintendent also discussed the school budget for the next school year. “Every month we’ll be building the budget,” he told the board. Mr. Brennan said that the preliminary state aid numbers will come out at the end of this month ahead of the governor’s proposal for the state budget.
There will be a forum in at South Colonie High School January 30 called “Still in Fiscal Peril,” about state aid. A forum like this was held last year in East Greenbush and several board and community members from ICC attended. “I do think it had an impact,” said Mr. Zini of last year’s turnout, pointing out that the district received an increase in state aid late in the budgeting process for the 2013-14 budget.
Those interested in attending the forum should call the district. Mr. Zini said that the organizers are expecting another large turnout.
The South Colonie School District website, www.southcolonieschools.org, says the forum is coordinated by the Superintendent’s Legislative Committee of Capital Region and Questar III BOCES. All the school districts in this county are served by the Questar III BOCES.
Also this week the board accepted the goals in the strategic plan, which was presented to the board in December. With the general outline approved, Mr. Zini said the district will be looking for several committee members to help flesh out the goals. He said he hoped to have a detailed plan by June of this year.
At the same meeting the board approved Nature’s Classroom, a 5th grade trip during the April break. After being parent organized and run trip for several years, it is now a board approved trip and Todd DiGrigoli, a district employee, with attend as a representative of the district. Mr. DiGrigoli is being paid a $500 stipend for going on the trip. The board will also have oversight over the other chaperones on the trip, which have not been chosen yet.
The next regular board meeting is Tuesday, February 4 at 7 p.m. in the high school library.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .