Schenectady County

Schalmont, Mohonasen, Duanesburg ponder joint bus garage

The Schalmont, Mohonasen and Duanesburg school districts are exploring the possibility of a shared b

The Schalmont, Mohonasen and Duanesburg school districts are exploring the possibility of a shared bus garage.

Schalmont and Duanesburg officials met recently to discuss ways to share services in this tight fiscal climate with the new property tax levy cap. This followed a similar meeting Mohonasen and Schalmont had over the summer.

“I think the interest is moving forward on a joint study,” said Schalmont Superintendent Valerie Kelsey.

She said the next step is for each district to prepare a report about its current bus fleet and their transportation needs and go from there.

All three districts have been trying to upgrade their aging and inadequate bus garages. Duanesburg Superintendent Christine Crowley said her bus garage, located next to the elementary is rusting out. “We found a study from years ago that was done. Our business administrators right now are trying to update that information,” she said.

Crowley has also brought up the issue of a joint bus garage with both the town of Duanesburg and the village of Delanson.

Mohonasen spokeswoman Adrienne Leon said there have not been any further conversations about a joint bus garage since the summer meeting. “However, the option of some kind of feasibility study/shared services is still on the table,” she said in an email.

Mohonasen voters in December 2010 rejected an effort to build a bus garage as part of a $43 million capital project that included improvements at all four schools. In May of that year, voters had approved purchasing about 36 acres of land adjacent to the high school and middle school campus that was to have been part of this expansion plan.

In addition to a bus facility, Schalmont and Duanesburg are having preliminary conversations about doing a pilot program to offer joint courses for high school classes that have low enrollment and other academic programs. For example, Schalmont has the Project Lead the Way pre-engineering program but Duanesburg doesn’t. However, Duanesburg has a nanotechnology course. Kelsey said one idea would be to offer some type of class through video conferencing.

Crowley said both Duanesburg and Schalmont’s distance learning laboratories are full. They are exploring different options that wouldn’t require shuttling students between the districts. “By the time you bus the kids there and back, they would probably miss two periods instead of one,” she said.

Duanesburg is looking for any savings it can because Crowley estimated that the district would be about a million dollars short given the constraints of the next property tax levy limit. Crowley worries that the fiscal concerns will force districts to scale back course offerings like Advanced Placement courses that colleges like to see on students’ transcripts.

“We’re just trying to get out in front of it and find anything we can to share.”

Although such offerings wouldn’t likely save either districts money, Crowley said, it would preserve the courses.

Duanesburg officials also plan to meet with Schoharie representatives in January to discuss sharing services.

In other Schalmont news, Business Administrator Mark Kellett has announced his retirement effective Aug. 31. Kellett is in his 15th year with the district. Previously, he spent almost 10 years with the state Education Department and before that worked as a business administrator in the Sodus Central School District in Sodus and the Northeastern Clinton Central School District in Champlain. Kellett’s wife is also retiring and he said he may substitute as a teacher or administrator.

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