NISKAYUNA — Niskayuna Central School District voters on Tuesday approved nearly $80 million in capital work across the district, including a major overhaul of two middle school buildings and broad improvements to athletic facilities.
Voters approved two separate projects:
- A $62.2 million referendum that includes the bulk of the work and would maintain current tax rates by replacing the district’s old debt;
- A $16.8 million referendum that would focus extra work on improving district athletic facilities and would carry a tax increase estimated at $28 for a home valued at $100,000 over two years.
With over 2,400 total ballots cast, voters approved the first question with 70 percent support and approved the second question with 64 percent support.
The planned improvements include a litany of items spread across all district buildings, updating classroom spaces to be more flexible and collaborative, replacing an unsafe track surface and renovating dated school buildings.
The project will also set the stage for a planned reconfiguration of what grades of students attend what school in the district, eventually with all fifth- and sixth-graders in the district at Van Antwerp and all seventh- and eighth-graders at Iroquois. The transition to the new grade configurations is targeted for fall 2025 – give or take a year, depending on the pace of construction – district officials have said.
A key component of the capital project, nearly $48 million of the first proposition, is focused on restructuring and renovating the middle schools. Van Antwerp in particular will need extensive renovations and improvements to the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. The project would fund converting the district office space at Van Antwerp into classroom space as well construction of an 18-classroom addition at Iroquois
The district’s construction managers have discussed targeting some of the earliest work at converting the wing at Van Antwerp devoted to district offices into classroom space, enabling those new classrooms to house students as construction work moves into other parts of the building.
Districts officials have argued the timing for the capital work was ripe because of old debt falling off the books and the need to address some of the district’s infrastructure needs as soon as possible.
Glencliff and Rosendale will both receive roof replacements under the approved work. The roof at the district’s Hillside Avenue transportation center would also be replaced at a cost estimated at just over $2 million and boilers and HVAC systems would be updated across the district.
“The fact of the matter is our facilities are in a state of disrepair,” Niskayuna Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr. said during a January meeting with the Daily Gazette editorial board, summing up the need for the project.
Tangorra has described the project as a major step toward a long-term facilities plan that over time will include small but more frequent projects. But the district will have to phase in the just-approved projects for five or more years.
Next steps include detailing design plans to submit to the state Education Department, with district officials seeking approval to move forward with construction by fall 2021 or early 2022. That would put the district on track to begin construction in summer 2022, potentially finishing construction on a phased schedule stretching in 2026.