A trio of Capital Region school districts will ask voters this month to support capital projects aimed at renovating buildings, improving athletic fields and enhancing security.
The capital projects range in cost from nearly $24 million to more than $40 million. Some of the projects include a strengthening of technology infrastructure while others plan for major renovations of aging school auditoriums.
Guilderland and Ballston Spa school district capital projects, projected to cost $42.7 million and $24 million, respectively, will be put before residents for their approval Oct. 16. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake will ask voters to support a $34 million project Oct. 23.
The Ballston Spa and Burnt Hills capital projects are both pitched as continuations of efforts to update school buildings.
An earlier Burnt Hills capital project, for instance, funded construction of the district high school's new science and technology wing.
The new project plans include updating the high school’s business and family consumer science classrooms; renovating the Pashley Elementary School library; and updating the gyms at both Stevens and Charlton Heights elementary schools. The Pashley elementary PTA raised $100,000 to fund replacing the school's dirt track with a new running track.
More than $6 million of the Burnt Hills project is devoted to improving safety and security at O’Rourke Middle School, as well as improving classroom spaces. The plan calls for constructing a new, more secure entrance and lobby at the middle school. The main office, as well as offices for guidance counselors, social workers and the nurse, also will be moved to the newly built main entrance.
The showcase of the project, however, may be a $10 million overhaul of the high school’s auditorium, which was built in 1955. The space, district officials contend, is long overdue for major upgrades and an expansion of seating, which falls short of accommodating the whole student body.
“Over the years, this space has truly become a district and communitywide auditorium, and it’s simply too small and outdated for how we use it and how much we use it,” said Peter Giroux, Burnt Hills’ fine arts director.
The auditorium renovation plans call for construction of a balcony, which would boost seating capacity by around 15 percent. Seats, carpets and lights would all be replaced, as the auditorium’s lighting and sound system receive a major upgrade. The stage opening itself would be widened, and the orchestra pit would be extended.
But the largest share of the capital project, nearly $15 million, would pay for upgrades to the district’s infrastructure, including extensive roof repairs, bathroom renovations, replacing heating and cooling equipment and other improvements. About half of the $15 million will be used to construct a new transportation center to house the district’s 70-bus fleet and the crew that maintains it.
Burnt Hills district officials project the capital project will, after five years, cost the owner of a home valued at $200,000 about $68 per year.
The Ballston Spa project, pitched as phase three of a yearslong update to the district's schools, focuses on updating classrooms and school infrastructure not addressed in previous projects.
The $24 million project includes renovations to science, technology and art classrooms at the district middle school and renovations to Malta Avenue Elementary School's auditorium. The plan also calls for improvements at the high school auditorium, including new stage curtains and lighting, as well as construction of a new multipurpose field, baseball field and parking lot on the south end of the high school campus.
The earlier construction phases were approved by voters in 2010 and 2012.
Guilderland’s $42.7 million project includes more than $21 million for safety and security improvements. The project includes upgrades to the district fire alarm system, phone and public address systems and the addition of new security and shatter-resistant film for the building's windows.
Another $9.4 million in the Guilderland project is devoted to improving energy efficiency and heating and ventilation in the district’s seven schools. Over $12 million is earmarked for improving the district’s technology infrastructure by improving science and technology labs and strengthening the district’s wireless capabilities.