ROTTERDAM — The Mohonasen Central School District this week unveiled plans for a $47.6 million capital project that includes renovations to each building, upgraded athletic facilities and improvements aimed at bolstering the education experience for students.
The project includes three components: health and safety; academic and programmatic improvements; and infrastructure upgrades, which encompasses a bulk of the proposal at $36.6 million. The district’s Board of Education is expected to finalize the project plans later this month for inclusion on the May 16 budget referendum.
The district is still in the process of finalizing what is projected to be a $64 million operating budget that will include a 2.25% tax cap, the equivalent of a $55 increase for a property with a $150,000 assessed value.
Greg Klokiw, an engineer with CSArch, the Albany-based architecture firm overseeing the project’s development, said a bulk of the upgrades were identified during a building condition survey the district completed three years ago, but noted other components were added to get ahead of future repairs as mechanical equipment comes to the end of its expected lifespan.
“The key thing to remember is you really want to get to some of these things before they become an issue,” Klokiw said. “It’s not necessarily preventative maintenance, but we try to anticipate how long something is going to last and try to address it before it becomes an issue.”
If approved, construction on the project would begin in 2025.
Included in the district’s infrastructure plans are new roofing, pavement and sidewalk renovations at each of the district’s four main school buildings: Bradt Primary, Pinewood Elementary and the middle and high schools.
Each building will also see dated mechanical equipment replaced and LED hallway lighting installed. The high school will also see its tennis court reconstructed, track resurfaced and lighting for its turf filed, first installed in 1996, replaced, according to project plans
Under the $3.9 million health and safety portion of the project, plans call for reconfiguring the high school’s main entrance, ensuring access to the turf field between the middle and high schools is ADA compliant and adding additional parking to the field, among other things.
The $7.1 million academic and programmatic improvements include renovations to classrooms and cafeteria at Bradt, locker room and library renovations at the middle school and network improvements at all four school buildings.
“These are things that don’t necessarily fall under the building condition survey due to their age that we want to replace them, but these are things that overall we want to improve the education experience for the students,” Klokiw said.
The district is expecting the project to cost taxpayers with an assessed property value of $150,000 less than $10 annually over six years beginning in 2025.
Chris Ruberti, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, said the school system took a strategic approach to financing when developing the project, including examining when previous debt was expiring as a way to mitigate cost to taxpayers.
Debt from previously approved capital projects is set to expire in 2025 and 2026 and the district is planning to use fund balance and capital reserves to further mitigate costs, Ruberti said.
The project is being proposed at a time when the state is expected to fully fund foundation aid, the primary funding source that school districts throughout the state rely on, which has been underfunded for years.
At Mohonasen, the district is anticipating a $4.3 million increase in foundation aid for the coming academic year, bringing the district’s projected state funding to $31.7 million. State lawmakers are expected to approve a final budget later this month.
Ruberti said future funding is unclear, making now the perfect opportunity to move forward with the project.
“We do feel that this is the right time to get things done not knowing what is coming in the future,” he said.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.
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