ICC offers details of wide-ranging upgrade proposal

KINDERHOOK–The Ichabod Crane School Board hosted an information night November 14 about the proposed $27-million capital improvement project that will go before voters in early December. The board was joined by representatives from CSArch, the architecture firm designing the project, a representative from the district’s financial adviser, administrators and high school teachers. About 40 community residents attended the meeting in the high school auditorium.

School Superintendent Michael Vanyo, who had been on medical leave since late summer, welcomed the community to the meeting. Board president Matthew Nelson welcomed Mr. Vanyo’s return, saying the superintendent was “back on duty.” In August the board appointed district administrator Suzanne Guntlow as the assistant to the acting superintendent while Mr. Vanyo was on leave.

As for the scope of the capital project, the $27 million would pay for projects in all three school buildings, the bus garage and the maintenance building as well as for construction of a connector road between the middle and primary school buildings. The projects are based on a facilities study, which suggested the district needed over $40 million of upgrades and repairs.

“That was before public input,” Mr. Nelson said of the plan.

He said that the board’s Facilities Committee brought the project to the full broad several months ago, and after many long meetings, the board proposed this final plan which does not include the artificial turf sports field which had been discussed or air conditioning in the buildings, which was also something the board considered. Mr. Nelson did say “a lot of our facilities need a lot of work.”

Proposal highlights:

• The proposed plan includes upgrades to all three wings, or pods, at the middle school, improvements to the middle school gym, enclosing the school’s cafeteria for safety and new storage space at the music rooms

• Work on the high school would focus on making a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) wing with upgrades to the classrooms.

CSArch representative Melissa Renkawitz said at the meeting that having STEAM classrooms is “likely to become a state requirement.” There will be new construction to expand the space for technology classes

• The plan for the high school also includes renovations for a guidance/student support wing that would put counselors together in one section of the building. And there will be roof repairs at the high school as well as repairs to the high school auditorium stage. In this plan the auditorium will also get a control booth for sound and lighting equipment.

• Lockers will be replaced and there will be mechanical system replacement, which includes ventilators and boilers in the high school

• The primary school building is getting the least amount of work since it has had smaller upgrade projects over the years. But the greeter stations/entrances at all three school buildings will be getting bullet resistant film on the glass and more secure greeter windows

• There is also a plan to update the fire alarm systems at the middle and primary schools

• The athletic fields will get new bleachers

• Lockers and windows are planned at the bus garage as well as plumbing work. And the maintenance building would get tile flooring and work is planned on the doors and hardware

• The new road being proposed would help with the morning and afternoon bus runs. Currently there is only one entrance road to the middle school, which is behind the high school. And the primary school is accessible from State Farm Road but not from any on-campus roads. The proposed road would allow buses and emergency vehicles to go from the middle school to the primary school.

District residents will vote yes or no on whether to allow the district to spend a total of $27,115,200 on these projects. If approved, the plans will go to the state Education Department for review. Ed Anker from CSArch, said the review can take about 41 weeks. The district will receive about 73.5% in state aid for the project, and the plan would authorize spending $1 million from the district’s capital reserves for the project. Those amounts would mean that the “local share”–what district property owners would pay for the project–would be about $7 million.

Work would not start until at least 2020, so school taxes will not go up due to this project until then. The work is scheduled to be completed in 2022 but, as Mr. Anker stressed, “This is a real preliminary time line.”

According to the district’s calculations, the increase tax on a house in the district assessed at $200,000 would be about $75 a year. The $75 increase would last for the life of the 15-year bond used to pay for the project. There is a detailed breakdown on the district’s website, www.ichabodcrane.org.

High school teachers who chair the math, science, technology and art departments spoke at the information session about the importance of their programs and the need for upgrading the spaces. “Education is constantly changing and we have new mandates to meet,” said Science Department Chair Barbara Byrne.

After the main presentation, Mr. Nelson invited residents to meet in different classrooms with representatives to talk about finances, academics/programming, athletics, building and site infrastructure and health/safety.

The vote on the capital project will be December 12, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Ichabod Crane High School gymnasium. Absentee ballots are available from the District Clerk in the Central Offices at Ichabod Crane High School, 518-758-7575. ext. 3001. The deadline to request to receive an absentee ballot is December 5. The last day to pick up an absentee ballot in person is December 11. Absentee ballots must be returned to the District Clerk no later than 5 p.m. December 12, 2018.

There is no snow date for the vote.

A mailer about the proposal will be going out to district residents before the vote, according to Mr. Nelson.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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