By Doug La Rocque
The projects involve both the elementary and junior/senior high schools, totaling $11,855,000.
[private]The first proposal, at $8,755,000, covers all the proposed work for both buildings, while the second, costing $3,100,000, is for expansion and renovations to the elementary school gym. Included in the first proposal is 1.2 million dollars for renovations to the locker rooms at the Jr/Sr high school including separate ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant toilets with exterior access. Replacing the pavement in the north and south parking lots, renovating the home and careers classroom, updating kitchen equipment, replacing the existing maintenance building with a new metal building and upgrades to some athletic facilities as well as replacing exterior doors are also on the list. Improvements to the Walter B. Howard Elementary School, besides the gymnasium, include renovating facility and public toilets, kitchen upgrades, a secure entrance addition with main office renovation and some changes in plumbing. There are many other smaller improvements to both buildings as well. In his presentation to the school board last Wednesday night, Business Manager Michael Los pointed out the proposed projects are expected to have no impact on local taxes.
In order for the elementary gymnasium improvements to take place, both propositions must be approved by the voters. If only Proposition 1 passes it can move forward, but by law, even if Proposition 2 passes without Proposition 1 being approved, it too is considered defeated. The Board voted unanimously to accept the propositions and place them on the ballot on May 16.
The Proposed School Budget for Next Year Contains A Slight
The Board also heard Los tell them that at this stage, he expects both spending and the tax levy for the 2017-18 school budget to decrease, which could mean a tax cut of 1.12%. He indicates there is a reduction in the pharmacy costs to the District, that will be offset somewhat by the need to purchase flood insurance for the bus garage and additional expenses for IT switches for wireless in both buildings. The budget is not yet finalized, and can be impacted by both the final cost estimates for health insurance and the actual amount state aid to education is increased. In his Executive Budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a 1% increase, while the State Legislature is, according to Los, looking at a 2.2% hike. The final figure is dependent upon the outcome of the state budget negotiations. The state’s budget is due by April 1st. The school budget proposal will also be on the May 16 ballot.
The Elementary’s “Reach for the Stars” Dance a Huge Success
Walter B. Howard Elementary Principal Andrew Kourt said there were about 150 students at the annual event, and with the inclusion of their families, he said there were at least 300 people in attendance. “It was a huge success! I would say it is probably one of the biggest, most anticipated events of the school year. The kids love it, they get dressed up and it is just a really fun event.” Mr. Kourt also said that in cooperation with the Blue Star Mothers (an organization for mothers who have children that are currently serving or have served in the United States Armed Forces) the school has collected several boxes of donations for our troops serving in country and abroad. The children are working on writing Thank You cards to the service members as well. The principal also commented about the writing workshops that will be part of their annual superintendent’s conference day, as well as plans for future reading workshops.
Successes at the library were part of Junior/Senior High School Principal Mathew Klafehn’s report, including a “reading for the record” program, in which about 25 students in grades 7-12 read a collective 48,000 pages over a seven-week period. Also being pushed is a program called “Overdrive,” which in cooperation with the Mid-Hudson Library collective, makes more than two million e-books, audio books and videos accessible to the district students via their cell phones. Klafehn told the Board “as we try to reach more kids and put books in their hands and try to find more ways for instructional uses for the phones they all carry; it seems like Overdrive might be a good fit.” Other topics of discussion included the “Archery in the Schools” program, a cooperative effort with the NYS Department of Education to help engage young adults in outdoor activities. He also spoke on the Power Peace workshop, a two-day event that seeks to help kids understand tolerance and acceptance of others. The goal of the program is to have every student participate sometime during their high school years.
Athletic Director Josh Noble reported inside practice for spring sports has started on both the varsity and modified levels of competition, though he admitted some concerns that the first varsity sports slated to begin in late March, might become another victim of the “Blizzard of 17.” He also noted the scoreboard at the high school gym is becoming problematic, and hopes its replacement might become part of the capital project.
The annual High School Orientation Night that was also scrubbed because of the storm was rescheduled for Wednesday, March 22 at 6 pm in the Jr/Sr High School cafeteria. [/private]