Dear BKW community,
It is good to be back into the school routine. September was a busy month with school opening, many after school activities and open houses. The District has a great deal of energy and it is exciting to watch.
The most exciting task before us as a school community is the proposed capital project referendum. On November 2, voters will go to the polls to vote on two propositions. The first is for $14.8 million dollars to replace and repair major systems at the elementary school. Heating, electrical, ventilation, and septic issues cannot be ignored any longer. The work includes securing the visitors entry to the building and addressing traffic patterns to enhance the safety of children and visitors during peak traffic times. The work will also include the addition of space and technology necessary, including an Agri-STEM lab, to provide students with state of the art learning opportunities will into the future. The elementary cafeteria will be modified to be used as a large group meeting space, thus enhancing community engagement with the school.
The second question on the ballot is for an additional $5 million dollars to ensure the secondary school is equipped with state of the art technology wiring and classroom equipment so students coming from the elementary school will not take a step backwards in their learning experience. The work there will also include creation of a secure entry, expansion of the lobby to accommodate large crowds at evening sporting and musical/theatrical events, repair roofing, and improvement of the acoustics of the auditorium.
Now, question two can only be approved if question one is approved. The need for all of the items in both questions is not in doubt. Although the total of $19.8 million dollars seems overwhelming, the District is in an outstanding financial position to make this project happen in a way that limits the impact to taxpayers in our community. By using reserve funds that have been accumulated over the past several years for this purpose, we can cover 20% of the cost. Our NYS Building AID rate is 79.2% for capital project work. Together, this means we have access to nearly 100% of the cost of the project. We must borrow the money to complete the project, and then will receive the state building aid each year during the life of the loans until paid off. By the time the project is completed the District will also have paid off the existing construction debt on prior projects. There is a short period of time when old debt overlaps with new debt, and we will use reserves to keep the impact to the taxpayers small, about $12 dollars per year for five years, and then $4 dollars for one year, totaling $64 dollars for over 64 months. That is just $1 dollar per month for 64 months. After that period of time, the tax rate will go back down to the current level and this project will have no further impact to the tax payers.
When this project is completed, the District will have addressed all lingering infrastructural issues, upgraded safety and security, enhanced technology and learning opportunities for students, and created inviting and comfortable spaces for community use. The pride our community has for our schools is strong and evident. This facility plan has been put together with students and community in mind, and balances the responsibility for maintenance, safety, and learning. If passed, the District is committed to ensuring these plans become a reality and that the community can be proud of its investment.
Click here for more project information. If you have questions, I am more than happy to answer them. You may call my office at 518.872.1293. Please be active and vote on November 2, from 6 am to 8 pm, in the Secondary School Auditorium.
Dr. Timothy Mundell
Superintendent of Schools