By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO April 4, 2003 In December of 1996, a vote was taken in the Monticello School District for several building projects, most notably the new Robert J. Kaiser Middle School. The original proposal was voted down. However, it was restructured and ended up passing.
Six and a half years later, many of those renovations that were voted down will come up for another vote on Wednesday, April 9 for a $13.5 million renovation project that would include all the schools in the district.
A public information meeting on the project was held Wednesday night in the high school auditorium, and school officials were on hand to answer any questions and explain the projects. Also on hand were members of the Thomas Group of Ithaca, the engineers of the project.
Only about 20 people came out for the meeting.
This project has been many years in the making, commented Board President Richard Feller. We have talked about it every year. This project will benefit every student in the district.
This has been in the works for a long time, concurred Superintendent Eileen Casey. The roof situation is critical. We cannot continue to repair and patch it. We need to replace it.
The project will involve many different renovations. In the high school, the elementary schools, and the St. Johns Learning Center, the roofs ranging in age from 25 to 40 years must be replaced.
All of the schools (expect the brand new middle school) need their telephone, intercom, and clock systems upgraded. Some feature the original systems that were installed when the buildings were built decades ago.
Driveways and walkways are set to be blacktopped.
In the high school, two new classrooms need to be added, said officials. Room 200, which has served as a large lecture hall in the past, will be renovated and turned into two classes. The classrooms are needed because the student body is growing, said officials. In fact, the population has risen by 200 students over the last four years.
Also in the high school, a classroom and some office space will be renovated to create a science room. The Art and Home Economic classrooms will be updated, since they are the originals that were built in 1969. The auditorium, which is used by both the high and middle schools, will have air conditioning and sound systems installed. Lastly, the track, which was built in the 1980s, will be replaced.
The Cooke and Rutherford elementary athletic fields need to be renovated, said officials. For safety and security reasons, the entrances in the Chase and Cooke elementary schools need to be near the main offices.
The Cooke school evidently has some drainage problems requiring repair, while the Chase school will have its basketball court renovated. The parking lots at Rutherford, Chase, and Duggan schools will be expanded. At Rutherford, 40-50 parking spaces will be added. Chase will have an additional 20 spaces.
And the middle school still needs a finishing coat applied to the parking lot.
Part of the project will also see improvements to the bus garage. The 35-year-old lift system will be upgraded, since the DOT has deemed it unsafe. Also, drainage improvements are needed.
Dont expect everything to happen immediately, however, said Casey.
This project will be done a little differently, Casey commented. It will be done on a phased-in basis. It will not be all done at once. This will provide some financial advantages.
We strongly recommend that you do not do this all at once, agreed Thomas Group Senior Principal David Kuckuk. It will be done over four years. There are practical and financial advantages to this. We want to minimize the impact on the kids. We also want to get the most return on your investment. We will borrow intelligently and not all at once.
Since it is a capital project, if voters approve it, the district will get a 50 percent reimbursement from the state. The district would also seek a $3 million bond anticipation note, but payments on the bond would not begin until 2005. Meanwhile, bids for the project and the design process would begin. Officials hope the can begin construction by the end of next year.
The $13,521,136 bond would be spread out over 15 years. The average annual impact on taxpayers varies by town. Each is based on cost per $1,000 of assessed value. Bethel is $.43, Fallsburg is $.39, Forestburgh is $2.20, Mamakating is $.49 and Thompson is $.43. The final rate could vary as assessments change.
The vote will take place on Wednesday, April 9 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. throughout the district. In Forestburgh, you can vote at the Forestburgh Town Hall. In Thompson, voting will be at the Rock Hill Fire Department. In Mamakating, voters can go to the Emma Chase School in Wurtsboro. In Bethel, it will be at the Cornelius Duggan School in White Lake. The remainder of the district will vote at the Robert J. Kaiser Middle School in Monticello.
School officials are urging the public to contact them about any questions or concerns on the project. For more information, please call Casey at 794-7700.