After months of deliberation, the Board of Education is getting closer to putting a building project before voters this year.
The district has an $834,000 grant from the state’s Expanding our Children’s Education and Learning (EXCEL) program. It is seeking to use that money with other financing to do a building project. Exactly what could be included in that project remains to be seen.
The board this week reached a consensus that items it would like to see in a building project could include maintenance repairs to every building, upgrading the family and career classrooms at the middle and high schools, improving the technology shops at the high school, upgrading science laboratories at the middle school, enclosing the middle school library and addressing the deteriorating athletic fields.
Board President Margaret Smith said the board continues to discuss a number of options.
“What level of renovations wasn’t determined,” she said.
Some of these upgrades were planned during the 1999 building project, but had to be eliminated when $1 million was cut from the budget, according to spokesman Bob Hanlon.
Smith said the district is also looking at a project to create a multipurpose athletic field, new track, bleachers and other minor field work. The board has been hearing from the community about the fields. Athletic improvements would not be eligible for state aid unless packaged with classroom improvements.
“I think the board is trying to balance those concerns with the cost and the taxpayers’ ability to pay,” she said.
She estimated that athletics improvements would cost about $4.4 million. The district may have to do it in phases.
“We’re not going to be able to tackle all the fields,” she said. “We’re very conscious that the taxpayers would pay the whole burden of that.”
Smith said the board agreed to hold off on any decision of what to do with the district office, which will be obtained from the federal government in 2010 or 2011. Since the school district does not own the property, it does not want to make any major decisions like demolishing it and replacing it.
Also, she said if the district wanted to add on to a school to create space for the district offices, that would make the project much more complex.
“We probably would not be able to get that in a spring vote,” she said.
Hanlon said options dismissed by the board for the project were building a pool. The board agreed that energy improvements should be considered in the future.
The district’s architects, Dodge, Chamberlin, Luzine, Web Associates in East Greenbush, will put together cost estimates associated with various plans. Superintendent Susan Swartz was planning to present these options at its meeting on Feb. 11 at Glen-Worden Elementary School.
Swartz said there is a lot of support on the board to put a bond project before voters by May.
“The scope of the project will determine whether or not it really goes this spring,” he said.
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