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BH-BL school district to put $34.2 million bond before voters

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
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— A $34.2 million bond issue going before Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District voters next month would pay to create technology classrooms, move district offices, and make other improvements.

The bond issue is the largest district voters have ever been asked to approve, but would raise property taxes only 1 percent. The vote will be Tuesday, Oct. 22.

Through the bond issue, district officials propose moving their administrative offices from the aging Hostetter building in Glenville to the high school. As part of the shift, the high school would add a new science, technology, engineering, art and math wing.

Officials said the projects will qualify for a 77 percent state aid reimbursement, so the tax increase for a home assessed at $200,000 should be about $40 per year.

“We can leverage state aid for this project and turn the roughly $2 million in revenue we will have from the Hostetter building into $8 million for new classrooms and high-tech facilities for students,” BH-BL Superintendent Patrick McGrath said.

Money made from the sale of the Hostetter building and an earlier insurance settlement for a flooding incident inside the building — about $1.6 million — will also be used to lower the cost of borrowing.

McGrath said the new technology wing is needed to address how technology education has changed over the years, and the types of jobs students can expect to find upon graduation.

He said including art in the project recognizes the increasing role of computer technologies in artistic fields. “Every technology course we have is completely filled,” he said.

The new facilities will also give students a better idea of the work atmosphere at high-tech companies such as General Electric, Albany Nanotech or GlobalFoundries, he said.

The bond issue includes about 30 other projects, as well.

The projects were selected by the Board of Education as the top priorities from nearly $70 million in work recommended by a committee that looked at the district’s building needs last year.

The Hostetter building, which was built in 1958 but has not been used for teaching since 1981, has had fewer improvements than other district buildings and it is now one of the district’s costliest buildings to heat.

“This plan would allow us to eliminate some of our least energy-efficient space and replace it with modern energy-efficient space,” McGrath said.

Also included in the proposed bond issue are $2.1 million for roof replacement projects and $2.7 million for various classroom upgrades.

There is also $2.9 million for overhauling the track and football field and installing an artificial surface that will turn it into a multiuse field for football, lacrosse, field hockey and soccer. New exterior bathrooms would be built at the high school to accommodate those attending games.

There are also safety and security improvements at the Stevens Elementary School and O’Rourke Middle School. The district made security upgrades at three other schools this past summer, but the work at Stevens and the middle school is more extensive and more costly, district spokeswoman Christy Multer said.

“The episode at Newtown brought it to the fore, but it has been a concern,” she said.

The projects also include construction of a new parent drop-off area at Stevens, where parents now park on the shoulder of Lake Hill Road when bringing children to the school.

Construction of the various projects would take place over a five-year period, officials said.

Voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 22 in the high school gym.

Several information meetings are planned beforehand.

Meetings will be held Tuesday, Oct. 1, in the Stevens Elementary School gym; Monday, Oct. 7, in the high school auditorium; and Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the high school library. All start at 7 p.m.

A newsletter is also going to be mailed to district households.

 
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