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Warwick Valley CSD Considers Capital Project: No Local Tax Impact

on October 5, 2017

The Warwick Valley Central School District Board of Education is considering a $10.8 million capital project that includes repairs and renovations to all of the District’s schools and comes at no additional cost to taxpayers.

The Board of Education heard a detailed presentation of the capital project at its Sept. 25 work session. The presentation included a school-by-school discussion of repairs and improvements and was led by Timothy Holmes, the Assistant Superintendent for Business, and Mark Ruhnke of Eisenbach & Ruhnke Engineering.

Most of the proposed work was identified in a state-required Building Condition Survey (BCS) that involved an extensive and independent inspection of all school buildings. Mr. Holmes said the District’s Facilities Planning Committee has met regularly over the past year and, using the BCS as its guide, District officials prioritized each school’s needs.

Dr. Leach said the district develops multi-year facility plans, which help identify outdated and energy inefficient facilities and equipment. Additionally, heightened safety concerns and changing academic programs create the need for increased school security and improvements to instructional spaces, he explained.

If approved by voters, the capital project would have no direct tax impact. The District would receive about $6.9 million in state aid, and capital reserve funds would cover the balance.

“Our fiscal approach to capital projects is to fund them without any additional cost for local taxpayers, and we accomplish this by leveraging state aid,” Dr. Leach said. Principal and interest costs for eligible capital improvement projects are reimbursed by the state at about 64 percent.

“This funding, along with the funds we have set aside in our capital reserve, eliminates any additional costs to taxpayers for this proposed capital project,” Dr. Leach said. “For this reason, the scope as well as the costs of our capital projects tend to be significantly less than those of many area school districts.”

Highlights of the 2017 capital project include

Park Avenue Elementary School

Install building-wide air conditioning, upgrade the 1929 water system, and replace classroom flooring.

Sanfordville Elementary School

Repave the student drop-off parking lot, replace worn interior doors, install a new cafeteria floor, and convert water heaters from oil to natural gas.

Warwick Valley Middle School

Renovate the library/media center and renovate instructional and office space.

Warwick Valley High School

Repave the parking lot, resurface the track, upgrade instructional space, repair the greenhouse, update bathrooms, replace the main electrical system, and purchase an emergency generator.

Park Avenue, Mr. Holmes said, is the only school in the district currently without any central A/C. Window units are not an alternative, he said, because of the building’s structural and electrical limitations.

“A student’s address shouldn’t determine if he or she has a comfortable learning environment,” Dr. Leach said.

Each school also requires infrastructural repairs and maintenance, Mr. Holmes said. For example, corroding water piping in Park Avenue needs to be replaced, Sanfordville is due for new water heaters, and gym partitions at the High School, Middle School and Park Avenue have reached the end of their useful lives. There’s also roof work, floor repairs, masonry work, upgrades to electrical and plumbing systems, repairs to the bus storage facility, and the removal of several aging oil tanks from various locations on District property included in the project.

“This work will ensure that we continue to provide our students with a safe, secure, and physically sound environment for years to come,” Mr. Holmes said. “It protects the community’s investment in our schools.”

The capital project is expected to go before District voters on Dec. 7, 2017. The majority of the work would be completed during the summers of 2018 and 2019 so as not to disrupt students.

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