Voters in the Mohonasen Central School District soundly approved an ambitious $48.2 million capital project to construct a 42,500-square-foot “advanced technology” building at the campus off of Curry Road.
The measure was approved 704-477 during a referendum Tuesday. Superintendent Kathleen Spring credited district residents for supporting the school’s efforts to upgrade its infrastructure and improve its academic programs.
“This project is a huge step forward for our district in many ways, and the variety of opportunities it will bring to our students is truly exciting,” she said in a news release after the project was approved.
The $16 million Advanced Technology Regional Education Center will be constructed on land adjacent to the high school that was purchased in 2010. Preliminary plans call for an electric lab, a machining lab, a black box theater, a 200-seat auditorium and a nanotechnology lab with a simulated clean room.
The new education center was planned under the anticipation that Mohonasen will lease program space in the building to Schenectady County Community College and Capital Region BOCES. Spring envisions the technology center serving as a model for the state.
“With these partnerships, we will be able to offer our students a wider variety of high-quality, high-level programs and be more efficient at the same time,” she said. “Our students will have opportunities … that otherwise would not be possible.”
The project will also convert Mohonasen’s football field to synthetic turf and includes an $8.6 million six-bay transportation facility, which will replace the aging one now on the Mohonasen campus. In addition, the district would accomplish many other fixes around the campus.
“This project includes many nuts and bolts items, things like heating and cooling, plumbing and general maintenance. It also includes items that are designed to offer a wider range of opportunities for our students — and the students of our region — for many years to come,” Spring said.
District officials estimate that the local share of the project will be about $18.7 million, costing the owner of a $150,000 home an annual tax increase of about $20 over five years. The district, community college and BOCES have also applied for a $2.5 million Empire State Development grant to help support the construction of the education center and further reduce the cost to taxpayers.
Critics of the project argued that it was too large at a time when district enrollment is shrinking. Some said the education center seems more tailored for use by BOCES and the community college than the programs at Mohonasen.