Capital Project Proposals Are Approved
By Doug La Rocque
“It’s a great day for the Berlin Central School District.” Those were the words from School Superintendent Dr. Stephen Young Tuesday night, March 6, after he learned both bond issues had been approved by district voters. The first calls for the expenditure of 9.3 million dollars on improvements to both the Elementary and Middle/High school buildings, as well as the construction of the new transportation facility.
The school building’s renovations mean many educational facility improvements, as well as a number of security enhancements. The district will receive slightly more than 75 percent reimbursement from New York State, and is using 2.7 million from its Capital Reserve, which means virtually no tax increase. 266 of the 408 voters who turned out to cast their ballots said yes, compared to 142 negative votes.
The margin on the second proposal was much closer, passing by a 217 to 188 vote. The district is now allowed to spend 3.6 million on the construction of a new running track, soccer field and baseball field at the Middle/High School. There currently is no running track at the school, which means their Track and Field team must always compete on the road. Once constructed, school officials say the facility will not only allow the district to host track and field meets, but will also be helpful to the cross country team and will be an additional resource for the community in general. While there was some state aid available to reduce the cost of these expenditures to the taxpayers, the difference is being financed for 15 years. This means an increase of $30.48 per every $100,000 in full value assessment.
The new transportation facility will increase the district’s repair capabilities and calls for a wash bay and installation of equipment to clear snow and ice from buses before they hit the road. The School Board has said the ability to daily remove salt and road grime from the buses will extend their useful life and removing the snow and ice increases safety for fellow motorists. The Building and Grounds department will also be relocated to the old transportation office, once renovated.
The chair of the School Board’s facilities committee, Katie Snyder, told The Eastwick Press, “it’s a great step forward for the school district and the students in particular.” Board President Frank Zwack said, “it’s good for the future of education for the entire Taconic Valley.”
Pending the amount of planning and details that now need to be worked out, and NYS Education Department approvals, it is hoped construction can begin in the summer of 2019.
A unique section of NYS Educational law required passage of the first proposal before the second could also be approved, regardless of the vote on the second.