Hoosick Falls voters OK school improvements

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HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. — After rejecting two previous proposals, voters on Wednesday approved two propositions for a large-scale capital improvement of the school building, paving the way for long-discussed upgrades.

The two propositions, totaling just over $22 million, cover safety items, energy improvements, building renovations and program renovations.

Proposition 1 addresses safety items, energy/HVAC improvements and building renovations, and will cost $16,758,941, according to information on the school district's website.

That proposition passed by a vote of 647 in favor and 343 against, said Meaghan Keegan, community information officer for the Hoosick Falls Central School District, in an email.

Proposition 2 includes alterations to the science classrooms and labs, media center and music department alterations, auditorium improvements and cafeteria and kitchen upgrades, and will cost $5,286,879.

This proposition passed with 614 in favor and 372 against.

The district's website notes that 82.4 percent of the project would be funded by the state of New York.

The project will be bonded, meaning interest must be paid; by applying up to $4.6 million in capital reserve funds and with an annual energy savings of $40,000, the cost for taxpayers will be approximately $1.9 million, according to a Q&As page on the district website about the project.

A bond is necessary because state aid comes over a period of 15 years, according to the website. The state will pay about $1.47 million each year during that period.

Work to be done under Proposition 1 includes abating asbestos-containing ceiling tiles, replacing boilers, and replacing lighting and the existing generator at the main building, modifying ventilation and ductwork, refurbishing bathrooms and renovating high school and elementary school lockers.

The school's bathrooms are from the 1960s, and are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Kenneth Facin, school district superintendent, previously said.

Work under Proposition 2 includes refurbishing music rooms and high school science rooms, renovating middle school science rooms and the high school library and replacing auditorium lighting.

The taxpayer impact has been estimated at an average of $36.50 per year over a period of 16 years for a home valued at $150,000; that average is $24.31 and $12.12 per year for homes valued at $100,000 and $50,000, respectively.

This was the third time voters considered capital improvements to the school since 2014. In October 2017, a $19.7 million capital project proposal was defeated by a vote of 418 to 456. A $17 million proposal was also defeated in 2014, 245 to 216.

At a work session in January, the board of education considered how to present the proposed changes, and learned more about them.

Facin told the board at that work session that, looking at the history of the school, multiple propositions tend to have a higher success rate than those written as singular options.

At that meeting, the board asked Facin to draft two propositions for the project, one for the proposed health, safety and building infrastructure and one for renovations to expand programs and other upgrades, such as to the school kitchen and cafeteria.

Facin also explained at that meeting some of the proposed improvements to the board, including abating asbestos-containing ceiling tiles, and replacing the fire alarm system.

The fire alarm replacement would include voice activation, instead of just strobe lighting and a horn system.

"Codes have changed over time, and this gives us another level of communication," Facin said.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.




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