Tuesday January 3, 2017 at 12:04pm Age: 139 days
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT: RESIDENTS TO VOTE ON $36.9 MILLION BUILDINGS UPGRADE PROPOSAL ON FEBRUARY 7
On Tuesday, February 7, voters of the Minisink Valley Central School District will head to the polls to decide on $36.9 million building project focused on health, safety and infrastructure improvements. The proposal carries no projected tax increase. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. that day. A capital project public forum will be held on Thursday, January 12, at 6:30 p.m. in the middle school auditorium. Residents are encouraged to attend and participate.
The proposed capital project addresses three major areas of need:
Of the $36.9 million project, $5,000,000 would be funded from the district’s newly established capital reserve fund. The remaining funds would be provided by the sale of bonds. Minisink Valley is eligible to receive approximately 75 percent reimbursement from the state on allowable expenditures. In addition, the district will be retiring debt associated with three previous capital projects. Through the combined use of capital reserve funds, the retirement of existing debt, and allowable state building aid, the district estimates that the proposed project will not result in a tax increase for homeowners.
PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS BY SCHOOL
High School – $18.1M
The proposed new cafeteria would provide greater seating capacity and create a multi-purpose area for large-group instruction and events. The larger facility would reduce wait-times for students during lunch, and lessen overall hallway congestion during class changes.
The existing cafeteria/kitchen space would be repurposed to accommodate new programs and course opportunities — i.e., culinary arts, photography, media production and computer labs — as well as two storage areas for drama club events, and two small conference rooms.
The new cafeteria would be built as an addition in the rear of the high school building, facing the back parking lot. It would feature tiered indoor and outdoor seating and offer warm weather possibilities for student activities and district functions. A solar-panel roof system would help offset some of the building’s utility costs and provide a solar-technology learning station for students.
Additional High School Projects:
Middle School – $8.3M
Minisink Valley Elementary School/Intermediate School – $6.1M
Otisville Elementary School – $186,000
Bus Garage – $105,453
Sewer Treatment Plant – $4.1M
The existing sewer treatment facility is approaching the end of its useful life and lacks the processing capacity to provide uninterrupted service to the main campus during maintenance, or when breakdowns occur. A failure of this facility would result in an extended shutdown affecting all buildings on the Route 6 campus.
1. How was the work in the new project identified?
Every public school district in New York state is required to undertake a building condition survey every five years. In 2015-16, the District worked with architects at Tetra Tech to conduct the mandated survey which identified the following areas of need: infrastructure-based, such as the upgrading of electric panels, the replacement of inefficient heating and cooling units, plumbing improvements, roof replacements, installation of energy efficient lighting, masonry work for stairs and sidewalk replacements, health and safety issues, and technology upgrades to improve instruction.
2. How can a $36.9 million project result in no new taxes?
The district has existing bond payments that will be retired over the next three years. These are greater than the projected cost of the new project. If the capital project is approved by the voters, improvements to the school facilities can be made with no additional cost to the community by timing the issuance of the bonds associated with the new project to coincide with the retirement of the existing bonds from previous projects.
3. Wouldn’t it have been better for the district to include some funds in its annual budget each year to complete this work?
When expenditures for improvements and major repairs are paid for from the general budget fund, they are not eligible for any reimbursement from the state. When integrated in a capital project, the state reimburses Minisink at a rate of 75 percent for the same improvements and repairs. The project’s work plans and specifications are submitted to the NYS Education Department for approval, prior to the start of any renovations or improvements.
The 75 percent building aid is paid to the district over 15, 20 or 30 years respectively, for renovations, additions or new buildings. The district issues bonds to pay for the project over 15, 20 or 30 years to align the bond payments with the building aid received from the state. A capital project with state building aid allows the district to be fiscally responsible while protecting the community’s investment in our schools.
4. When would the capital project work begin? When is it expected to be completed?
If the voters approve the project on February 7, the first major portion of the work would begin in the summer of 2018, with additional project work to be completed in 2019 and 2020. To minimize disruption to the school year, the work would be phased over three years and take place primarily during the summer months.
5. Why does the capital project include the construction of a new cafeteria at the high school?
The existing cafeteria, built in 1974, is outdated and does not meet the needs of our high school students. The new cafeteria would increase seating capacity from 250 to 400+, improve flexibility in scheduling student course requests, provide greater access through two major hallways and ease student traffic during period changes. The new layout would also allow for multiple serving stations and provide more food choices to better accommodate student needs.
The proposed addition includes a multi-purpose outdoor seating area, ideal for student lunch periods and other school events, weather permitting. The new roof on the proposed cafeteria includes the installation of a series of solar panels to generate electricity and reduce the building’s reliance on outside utilities.
6. What happens if the voters do not approve the capital project?
If residents do not approve the capital project on February 7, the district will prioritize building needs based on health and safety concerns. This remedial work would be paid from the district’s general fund budget and require reductions in other operations. The tax cap limits the district’s ability to generate new revenue to pay for these major expenditures.
The general fund budget always includes allocations for routine repairs and maintenance. However, the proposed capital project looks beyond mandated repairs and upgrades to address major infrastructure needs that protect the community’s long-term investment in our school facilities, and their ability to meet instructional needs for the 21st century.
The district could defer some of the proposed capital project work, but the delay could result in more serious and costly infrastructure issues, and greater disruption to instructional time and student achievement.
Who may vote? You may vote if you are 18-years old or older, a U.S. citizen, a district resident for at least 30 days, and registered voter for either a general election or a school board election.
How do I register? You can register at the district clerk’s office, Minisink Valley Central School District, Route 6, Slate Hill, NY, until February 2, 2017, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on days when school is in session. Proof of residency required.
When is the vote? Tuesday, February 7, 2017, noon to 9 p.m. If school is canceled due to inclement weather, the vote will be held on Wednesday, February 8, noon to 9 p.m.
Where do I vote?
How do I get an absentee ballot? Applications may be obtained at the office of the school district clerk. Absentee ballots must be received by the district clerk no later than 5 p.m. on February 7, 2017.