KINDERHOOK – The Ichabod Crane Board of Education moved closer to finalizing plans for a proposed capital improvement project after a nearly five-hour special meeting September 5.
The board is now looking at a $25-million project to upgrade the classrooms–called pods–in the middle school as well as upgrades to the high school math, science and technology classrooms. The plan also includes a road that would connect all three buildings on the campus, storage space in the middle school music suite, a sound booth in the high school auditorium and bleachers on one of the sports fields.
In addition there are several building and infrastructure projects that must be done for the project to be eligible for state aid.
The board originally looked a facilities study that suggested over $40 million in upgrades and board members spent several meetings over the summer reviewing the plan to bring that number down and move forward with the most important projects in Phase 1 with the possibility of a Phase 2 of the project in five years from now. The board also held a public information meeting in July and met with the district’s financial adviser to talk about the cost to district taxpayers.
The district put a survey online for residents to fill out with their priorities.
“The people I’ve spoken to are in favor of more versus less,” said Board President Matthew Nelson. Other board members said they felt the community would support a $25-million capital project. Residents will have to vote approve moving forward with the plan in December. The cost would be above the normal school tax, which supports the operating budget for the district.
Board members stressed that the state would pay about 73% of the cost of the project, so as board member John Antalek stressed, the local share is closer to $8 million.
Board member Jeffrey Ouellette said he would not support the capital project, calling the $25-million suggested cost “huge.”
Board members Anthony Welcome and Susan Ramos left the meeting before the board got to the latest cost estimate. Board member Dan Cohn was not at the meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting the board heard from physical education teachers and the head of the Athletics Department making a case for the synthetic field surface and upgrades to the gym in the middle school. The board did not include the field in the proposed capital project but did look at costs for upgrading the gym.
There are some numbers the board still needs to know before members can vote on the final cost of the project at the regular meeting on September 11. They asked the architects, who were at the meeting, to look into costs of repairs to the roof at the high school auditorium and work on the locker rooms at the middle school gym.
There was also a discussion on air conditioning, which was not part of the plan and has not been assigned a cost estimate. The few parents and teachers who stayed until the end of the meeting talked about the high temperatures in the classrooms. Mr. Nelson asked the architects to look into a possibility of air conditioning.
As the board discussed holding off on the vote scheduled for the September meeting, board member Tammy Crawford said, “It’s past the time for feedback, it’s time to start selling it.”
The next regular meeting is Tuesday, September 11 at 7 p.m. in the high school library.