Saratoga Springs City School District residents will have a chance Tuesday to approve — or reject — a $129.7 million capital project that includes classroom renovations, safety improvements and sweeping upgrades to the district’s physical and technological infrastructure.
The project is designed to replace the district’s soon-to-be-retired debts and will not carry a tax increase for local taxpayers, district officials have said.
Polls will be open at the district’s six elementary schools from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday. Absentee balloting is also available, with Monday being the deadline to request an absentee ballot directly from the district clerk.
About 8 percent of the overall cost would pay for consistently designed secure entrances at each of the schools, as well as improvements to camera systems and the district’s visitor management system. The project also includes extensive repairs to roofs, heating and cooling systems and other fundamental building infrastructure.
The extensive renovation work would also reach into classrooms, auditoriums, libraries, locker rooms, cafeterias and kitchens and establish new spaces to allow for a variety of academic uses and community access. Some big-ticket items include expanding the cafeteria at Maple Avenue Middle School to enable community use as well and a full renovation of the library at Geyser Road Elementary. A new “learning staircase” will be constructed inside the front entrance of the high school, doubling as a gathering space for students to work, eat and socialize.
District officials said if approved by voters, construction would begin around June 2022 and last through September 2028 as work at schools is phased in over time and concentrated into nights and summers. Superintendent Michael Patton said he didn’t expect construction to cause disruptions that would displace students from schools or necessitate the use of temporary classroom units.
Since the finances of the project are designed to replace the district’s expiring debts with the debt of the new project, district officials said the project will have no additional tax impact on district residents. Tim Hilker, the district’s business official, told the school board in September that if the district did not replace the soon-to-expire debt the district’s tax levy limit would drop, limiting its ability to raise funds through local taxes. The project — around $80 million of which would qualify for state funding — would also draw down around $7.5 million in capital reserve funds set aside in recent years.
“We have the funding in our current budget to be able to sustain this project without going out to the taxpayers and asking them to fund this with additional tax dollars,” Hilker said at the September board meeting.