Funds sought to fix school

The Fonda-Fultonville school district is seeking approval from residents to dedicate money for futur

The Fonda-Fultonville school district is seeking approval from residents to dedicate money for future repairs anticipated at the elementary school.

State law requires voter approval for the district to create a capital fund of up to $4 million, District Superintendent James Hoffman said.

The fund idea stems from the district’s legal battle with architects who designed a $20.8 million elementary school construction project.

Flawed design was cited as the cause of cracked floors and walls the district spent about $1.9 million fixing in 2006.

Following arbitration, the district in January accepted a $3.25 million settlement with the architectural firm Stantec, formerly Sear-Brown.

School officials want money left over from both the settlement and $2.5 million borrowed by the district for repairs in 2006 to be put aside in anticipation of future problems, Hoffman said.

“We want to put that money into a special capital reserve fund so it doesn’t just drift away,” Hoffman said.

The fill used beneath the foundation of the 42-classroom elementary school addition is believed to be behind the cracking and heaving of walls and floors, and Hoffman said it’s possible the situation could continue in unaffected areas of the building.

The project was designed to include locally mined shale instead of typically approved fill material, Hoffman pointed out. But those involved have since learned that the shale expands when wet, Hoffman said.

The grounds of the elementary school have a high concentration of pyrite as well, Hoffman said, which, when mixed with the shale, increases moisture.

The fill itself was laid on top of loose clay and continued settling is expected as well, Hoffman said.

Contractors repairing damage to the wing opened in January 2002 have ripped up the floors and drove piles beneath the building to support new floors, Hoffman said.

If approved, the fund would be invested with hopes it will grow in line with the cost of inflation.

“We don’t want the local taxpayers to shoulder the burden for this,” Hoffman said.

The measure will be placed on the May 20 ballot. The district Board of Education is devising a budget for the vote that should be available for public review May 6.

Categories: Schenectady County

Leave a Reply