Schalmont Central School District proposes capital project vote for May

Jefferson Elementary School students head for school buses after dismissal on Jan. 27, 2022.

Jefferson Elementary School students head for school buses after dismissal on Jan. 27, 2022.

To address safety concerns surrounding parking and traffic flow as well as air quality at all three schools in the Schalmont Central School District, officials are seeking approval for an estimated $6.1 million capital improvement project.

The proposal would appear as a proposition when district residents vote on the budget on May 17, said Superintendent Thomas Reardon.

“The existing infrastructure needs to be modified to accommodate a safer experience at the elementary, middle and high school campus,” said board President Angelo Santabarbara Thursday. “Fortunately we have come up with a plan to do so with a zero cost impact utilizing our reserve fund and grant opportunities.” 

This is not the same Santabarbara as Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, whose district includes Rotterdam. 

Reardon said the project would restructure parking lots, especially pick-up and drop-off areas at all three schools in the district. 

District officials have observed an increase in traffic since the pandemic, Santabarbara said, “which really has been an issue because as you can imagine we have a lot more cars coming into campus now.” 

Reardon said the district uses safety cones and supervision to control the flow of traffic but updated parking lots will benefit even those who do not have children in the district.

He said part of what sparked this project was feedback from community members who were noticing more congestion when they were trying to travel at certain times of the day, like during the morning work commute.

The other half of the project will focus on air quality, said Santabarbara. 

The district will put in a new filtration system and provide air conditioning throughout all the buildings to improve air quality and that upgrades should also be comforting, Reardon said.

Right now only certain areas of the buildings have air conditioning based on when they were built over the years or how often they are used. 

“Our classroom spaces do not,” Reardon said. Hot days in May and June can lead to uncomfortable or even unsafe temperatures in the classroom, he said.

Air will be filtered through a MERV 13 system. 

“Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, or MERV, reports a filter’s ability to capture particles,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. “Filters with MERV 13 or higher ratings can trap smaller particles, including viruses.”

The project will be primarily funded by capital improvement funds the district has been saving for the last four to five years, Reardon said. Some of it will be covered by various state and federal grants. 

The goal is to have everything completed before the district reopens in the fall of 2023. However, work isn’t anticipated to start until Spring 2023 with outside site work. Reardon said much of the work, like tearing up parking lots cannot be done while the district is in the middle of the school year. 

The plans for the project also still need to go through layers of approval if district residents approve the project in May, Reardon said. 

He said the district will provide more information to district residents in the coming weeks both at board meetings and via a newsletter.

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at 518-478-3320 or [email protected]

Categories: News, Rotterdam, Schenectady County


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