The district will put a $27 million building project before voters in December.
The Board of Education on Monday approved holding a referendum on a proposition to renovate classrooms at the middle and high schools, construct a new athletic field with artificial turf and make roof repairs and communications network upgrades.
Benjamin Maslona of Fiscal Advisors & Marketing Inc., the board’s financial consultant, said if voters approve the project, the bond payment would increase the tax rate about 1.9 percent annually. This equates to about $48 for a home with an assessment of $150,000, $38 with the STAR rebate and $32 with the enhanced STAR program.
The gross cost of the project is $37.6 million when the interest on the debt payments is included.
Board President Margaret Smith said some people may believe it is irresponsible for the board to do this project in the current economic climate.
“We haven’t just started looking at this since the stock market went down. We have been looking at this over a year or longer,” she said, adding that she believes it would be irresponsible for the board not to consider the work.
The price tag was originally $28 million. However, the board reduced the cost by $1 million by choosing a option to expand the existing high school library into the courtyard. The original option had the district constructing an addition onto the front of the school for the library.
The district plans to use a $935,000 state Expanding our Children’s Education and Learning (EXCEL) grant toward the project. Maslona estimated that about 92 percent of the project would receive state aid.
Board member Ben Conlon expressed concern that only presenting one option would be seen as trying to force something on voters.
“People have lost upwards of a third of their retirement in relation to the stock market. You can’t control that. It’s making people really think in terms of what they can and can’t do,” he said.
He also worried that if it were rejected, the state may decide to take away the EXCEL program before the district puts another proposal together.
Conlon was the lone vote in opposition to the motion to approve the proposal. The five other members voted in favor and board member Brian McCann was absent.
The proposal includes $5 million worth of general maintenance and roof repairs at various buildings. Another part of the project is renovating science and industrial technology classrooms at the middle school and renovating technology classrooms at the high school; enclosing the middle school library; and replacing the football field with artificial turf and 500-seat bleachers and fixing the track.
The board will formally vote on resolutions for the project on Monday. The exact date for the referendum is still being determined because the district has to publish a 45-day notice.