Schenectady County

Niskayuna school district mulls $5.2M project

A $5.2 million project being considered by the Niskayuna school board would replace Van Antwerp Midd
Niskayuna's Van Antwerp Middle School in 2013.
Niskayuna's Van Antwerp Middle School in 2013.

A $5.2 million project being considered by the Niskayuna school board would replace Van Antwerp Middle School’s aging roof and set up a larger project that could go to voters in the next few years.

The school board Tuesday night heard its most detailed presentation yet on the capital project, which under a proposed timeline would go up for voter approval Dec. 6. The project would address the district’s highest priority building needs, with construction work beginning as early as next summer.

Once that project was well underway, Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr. said, the district could turn its attention to developing a more extensive plan for a larger capital project that would address more building needs as well as look to build on academic program changes. That project likely would not go to voters for at least another three years.

“It’s an opportunity for long-term planning and to really get to the heart of what you want to do with the district and put that planning in place,” Greg Klokiw, of architecture and engineering firm CS Arch, told the school board.

District officials, working with construction and financial consultants, decided the $5.2 million budget would “financially maximize retiring debt” and result in “little to no tax impact” as expiring debt is replaced with new debt.

The project proposal focused on the district’s top priority structural repairs and replacements as determined by a building condition survey, which estimates the district has over $38 million worth of structural components that are within five years of exceeding their useful life expectancy — including $15.5 million in needs at the district’s Hillside Avenue bus garage.

The first construction would be a $1.3 million roof replacement at Van Antwerp Middle School, under the proposal. The roof has had leaking problems in recent years, officials said, and school board members noted that they have been discussing the need to replace it for the past five years.

Work on the Van Antwerp roof and $104,000 in repairs at the district’s bus garage would begin next summer, and a second round of improvements across all of the district’s eight schools would commence the following summer, under the proposed timeline.

The improvements largely focus on fixing roofs, electrical panels, heating and cooling systems, and other basic infrastructure maintenance. In the second round of work on the initial project, the roofs at Birchwood and Craig elementary schools would also be replaced.

A small rift between the school board and CS Arch, the architectural and engineering firm working on the project, emerged at Tuesday’s public meeting over contact negotiations that have yet to be finalized; contract negotiations with construction management firm Saratoga Project Manager have also not been finalized. School board President Rosemarie Perez Jaquith told a CS Arch presenter that she was concerned the contract negotiations hadn’t been resolved.

“It causes some concerns and we need to raise it,” she said. “Timing is an issue and if we can’t get a contract together in two or three weeks, it causes us some concern in terms of keeping this very tight timeline.”

Tangorra said he expected to have both contracts negotiated in the coming weeks and that he would be able to take them to the board for approval next month. He said the contract negotiations hadn’t lasted any longer than he’s experienced on previous capital projects.

Planning work for the second capital project — which Tangorra said tentatively could go to voters in fall 2019 or 2020 — would begin after construction started next summer on the first project. The second project would be bigger and may also include building improvements that would “incorporate programmatic changes we are and have been talking about,” Tangorra told the board.

During board discussion at Tuesday’s meeting, Tangorra said the second bond would likely be “at least” $18 million. On Wednesday, he said it is too early to tell what the size of that second project would be and that the district has not yet done any financial analysis along those lines.

Reach Gazette reporter Zachary Matson at 395-3120, [email protected] or

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