By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — The RCS school district is planning to put a proposed $15 million capital project to a vote in January.
“We approved a referendum and bond for a construction project,” District Superintendent Dr. Brian Bailey said at the November meeting of the board of education. “January 9 is our target date for the vote. We have a lot to accomplish between now and then.”
The district is planning to conduct outreach to the community, including mailings, and hold a public event in the weeks leading up to the vote to explain the project and the need for it.
Community mailings are expected to go out in mid to late December, and will explain the scope of the proposed capital project and the impact on local taxpayers, Bailey said.
“The impact on a $300,000 house is $15 a year,” the superintendent said. “That will likely help our residents feel more confident in the impact on their lives if we choose to do this referendum.”
Bailey and John Sharkey, from Rhinebeck Architecture, explained the scope and budget of the proposed project at the board of education’s October meeting.
The project was developed with input from the state-mandated Building Condition Survey and the district’s Facilities Planning Committee, Bailey said.
“Each school district is required to conduct a Building Condition Survey every five years,” Bailey said. “It is to look at the school facilities, top to bottom, to determine what areas might be most in need of repair and as they completed that, they created a comprehensive list.”
The project would be eligible for state aid, Bailey said.
“We are a fortunate district in that for every dollar we spend, the state helps match funds at 72%, so if we spend a dollar, they pay 72 cents of that dollar when we are spending it on construction,” Bailey said.
Sharkey said some components of the district’s school buildings were deemed “unsatisfactory” by the State Education Department, and all of those areas are included in the proposed project.
“So if this project goes forward and the construction is done, all your buildings would be listed as ‘satisfactory,’ according to SED,” Sharkey said.
The project was broken down into three categories — must-do projects, should-do projects and nice-to-do projects, he added.
Some of the larger components of the project at the high school would be reconstruction of the parking lot to improve traffic flow and parent drop-off areas, replacing unit ventilators that are at the end of their useful life, reconstructing sidewalks from asphalt to concrete, replacing old skylights and the pool roof, replacing old interior corridor doors and brick repairs.
“Some of the features that made the building ‘unsatisfactory’ were fire alarm system upgrades,” Sharkey said, adding that those would be included in the project.
The budget includes $5,898,000 in repairs at the high school.
At RCS Middle School, in addition to work on the parking lot the school shares with the high school, many of the repairs mirror what would be done at the high school. An “alternate” component of the project, which would be done only if funds are left over, would be reconstructing the play/soccer field at a cost of $500,000.
The total cost of the project at the middle school would be $1,690,000.
The priciest component of the repairs at A.W. Becker Elementary School would be replacing old unit ventilators for improved ventilation in classrooms. The project would also replace the south parking lot and playground area, the sprinkler system, entry/exit lights and a new public address system, along with other smaller components of the project.
Repairs at A.W. Becker Elementary School would cost $1,593,000.
Similar improvements are slated at Pieter B. Coeymans Elementary School, including replacement of unit ventilators, reconstructing the driveway and parking lot, improved sidewalks, replacing the sprinkler system and public address system, among other items.
The cost of repairs at Pieter B. Coeymans Elementary School totals $1,797,000.
The project also includes upgrades and repairs at the district’s transportation building for $846,000 and the warehouse for $197,000.
“If you add up all the must-dos, should-dos and nice-to-dos, we’re at a construction cost of $12,021,000, but to that you have to add incidental costs to the district,” Sharkey said. “We usually keep them at around 20% but because of escalation and price increases, we’re using an incidental cost of 25% and so the overall project cost would be $15,026,250.
The vote on the project is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 9, and if approved, construction would be expected to take place over the summers of 2024 and 2025.