2 Capital Projects To Go Before Voters
At the Wednesday, January 10 Round Table meeting, the Berlin School Board finalized the details of the two capital projects and voted to put them before voters on March 6. The first project totals $9.358 millions, but because of qualifying state aid and capital reserves held by the district, it has virtually no impact on school taxes. Over the 15-year life of the bond, it would mean 6 cents per year on property with a full market value of $100,000. This project would make a number of improvements to both the Elementary and Middle/High School buildings, and construct a new transportation facility to replace one that the Board says “has become very old and outdated.” The lion’s share of the money ($4.2 million) would go towards this replacement.
A new garage would be built on the current property, with four bays for repairs as well as a separate wash bay. The Board indicating that being able to keep the buses clean and free of road corrosives, such as salt, goes a long way toward lengthening the life span of the buses. The new facility would also house the transportation offices as well as create a secure parking area for the buses. All employee and visitor parking would be outside the dedicated bus area.
The new facility would also have a device installed that clears the top of the buses of snow and ice in the wintertime, something that is identified as a safety concern. The current bus garage would see some needed structural improvements and become the home for the building and grounds department.
At the Elementary School a secure entrance vestibule would be created, the corridors would be renovated and new lockers installed that are more “elementary school friendly.” The building once housed middle and high school students and the lockers are a remnant of that time. Four bathrooms would also be completely renovated for use by elementary students. Outside, behind the building, a major safety concern would be addressed. Currently vehicles can travel completely behind the school, perhaps putting students crossing the area to the playgrounds at risk. A secure walkway would be constructed to prevent through traffic, but which could be removed when needed.
At the Middle/High School building secure entrance ways by the main office and the district office would be installed, the Health and Guidance offices would be relocated to make room for additional class space, and perhaps most important, all the 6th grade classrooms would now be grouped together in one wing. New science labs would be constructed, bringing some 21st century technology to students, as well as constructing two outdoor education areas. Lockers here would be replaced as well, along with repairs to sidewalks and window replacements throughout the buildings. These new windows would be highly energy efficient.
Upgrading Sports Facilities
The second Capital Project would see the creation of a new soccer field, in the same general area where the current one lies, with a new 8-lane track and field complex built around it. This would also encompass the area where the baseball field current exists, so a new ball field would be built behind the building. This project has a price tag of 3.7 million dollars. Under a complicated formula, the district would receive 66 percent state aid for two thirds of the cost. Over the 15-year life of the project it would mean an additional $170,000 to the tax levy each year. Again, using full market value of a home, this would mean $30.48 per year on a $100,00 piece of property.
Just What Will it Cost You?
There are five towns that make up the Berlin School District and all five have different equalization rates when it comes to the assessed value of a home. The Board is planning to hold informational meetings in each town in February, the dates to be announced soon. At these meetings the district hopes to have a computer with tax rates specific to each town, so they will be able to inform attendees just what it would add to their individual tax bill.
According to Board Vice President Katie Snyder, the committee that formulated these projects, along with their chosen engineer and project manager, spent many months seeking input, not only from school administration and staff, but also from many different segments of the school community and the students themselves. It was from these students the committee was persuaded to include the track and field portion, something she says they pushed hard for. She also believes the track facility will benefit the community, providing a safe place to walk or jog. Some of the improvements to the buildings were also student suggestions. She told The Eastwick Press, “many parts of these proposals were very much student driven.”
The Eastwick Press will publish the dates of these town meetings, as soon as they are finalized.