EDITORIAL: Schenectady school capital project needs your input

Schenectady schools logo
Article Audio:

Say you’re one of the 1,000 or 1,500 or so people who actually takes time to vote in Schenectady school board elections.

You’ve got a lot of power. And you’ll have a lot more of it if you show up to vote on May 16, when, in addition to the annual school budget and board of education seats, the district will hold a referendum on a $300 million capital project.

If allowing 1,500 of your neighbors to help set educational policy and local school taxes for you isn’t enough incentive to get you to the polls, but you still want some kind of say in how the district plans to spend that $300 million, then your best chance is during four upcoming public information sessions on the project.

They are scheduled for Tuesday, April 4, at 6 p.m. at the downtown library in the McChesney room; Thursday, April 6, at 6 p.m. at Central Park Middle School; Tuesday, April 18, at 5:30 p.m. at Mont Pleasant Middle School; and, Thursday, April 20, at 5 p.m. Oneida Middle School.

The seven-year plan is designed to provide a full-scale upgrade and renovation of the district’s aging and worn-down educational spaces.

Depending on the building, work could include repairs to interior and exterior walls, upgrades to security and fire safety systems, renovating or replacing heating, plumbing, sewer and electrical systems; roofing, flooring and sidewalk repairs; right-sizing of classrooms; and space design, infrastructure and cosmetic work.

The district has a detailed but easy-to-follow plan for each building listed on its project website: https://www.schenectadyschools.org/documents/about/schenectady-revitalization-plan-2030/405714.

The project is 98% funded by state aid, with the remaining 2% coming from the district’s capital reserve fund and Excel money — meaning the $300 million project won’t force the district to raise local school taxes.

But don’t let that fact dissuade you from commenting at the public information sessions or voting on the project.

The changes they are planning are significant and designed to be long-term solutions, not quick fixes. This could be your only chance in the foreseeable future to have an impact on what the district ultimately does with its buildings.

Go on the website and read about the plan. Give some thought as to what you’d like to see for upgrades and renovations in the buildings, particularly if you remember attending school in any of them. Share your thoughts with school officials at the public meetings and by communicating directly with board members.

And by all means, plan to vote. (Kudos, by the way, to the district for scheduling the vote at the same time as the budget and school board vote instead of holding it on a separate day when turnout would likely be depressed.)

The project requires a 60% super-majority of votes to pass. If only 1,500 people vote, that means it will take only 900 votes to get through.

Your input and vote will make a big difference in how and whether this gets done.

Don’t miss the opportunity to have your say.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion, Opinion, Schenectady

Leave a Reply