Schenectady school district reveals proposed $300M capital project

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SCHENECTADY — The Schenectady City School District unveiled a tentative $300 million capital project on Wednesday evening that could be on the ballot alongside the 2023-24 school budget on May 16.

Schenectady Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. detailed the proposal, which is still being developed, to the board of education during a presentation during the board’s meeting Wednesday.

The tentative $300 million plan would have zero tax impact on residents by utilizing state aid to fund 98% of the construction cost.

Under the district plan, the district would fund the remaining 2% of the project with $5.5 million from its capital reserve fund, with the balance being funded by state Excel aid.

The scope of the project, the first in the district since taxpayers approved a $64 million project in 2017, would see the district administer $126 million in renovations to the high school, with a reconstruction of the building’s athletics wing, an upgraded ventilation system and cafeteria and kitchen renovations in the school.

The capital project, which would last through 2030, would also see the district invest $25 million in upgrades to Central Park Middle School, with an upgraded electrical power distribution system and new ceilings at the site.

During his presentation to the board, the superintendent asked the council to give the administration permission to explore a major capital project with the hopes of putting a project in front of voters in May. The board would have to approve any proposal before voters would render the final verdict.

Soler noted that the previous district capital project came in two phases of $70 million and $64 million.

“I’m asking the board permission to be a little bit more bold,” he said during the meeting. “To think about those campuses and to really prioritize some of the campuses that I think have been overlooked.”

The superintendent noted that the average age of the district’s 18 school buildings is 95 years old, with Howe Elementary School dating back to 1905.

The project would see upgrades to Howe, Van Corlaer Elementary, Central Park Middle School, Paige Elementary School and would see the district’s freshman leadership academy relocated from the high school to the Steinmetz Career & Leadership Academy.

Soler said the district’s previous projects were timed to five-year construction windows, with a decade-long window for the new capital project.

“I’m asking the board for permission to say, ‘Let’s do this once,’” he explained. “We’ll have a 10-year approval for $300 million and allow me to hit all of these campuses and come back to you hopefully in 2030 for the next phase or next revitalization at that point with different buildings, but those school buildings would be the primary focus.”

The project, which was developed in partnership with the SEI Design Group of Albany, would also see $60 million expended on district wide infrastructure improvements.

Soler said that if the board approves the proposed project that a community outreach effort would be launched to educate the public in advance of a possible spring vote on the project.

“We will pursue this avenue working towards further education and we’ll bring some more stuff back to the board and update you and be ready for a potential May vote,” he told the board.

Categories: News, News, Schenectady, Schenectady County

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