GCSD proposes $21.8M capital plan

GUILDERLAND — On Tuesday, the school board here adopted a proposal for a $21.8 million capital project to make improvements at all seven of the district’s schools.

Voters will have their say on Oct. 7.

The board added roughly $4.3 million in projects to the original $17.4 million proposal.

All eight of the board members present on Tuesday — Barbara Fraterrigo was absent — voted in favor of the $21,763,469 plan.

The original capital plan, presented July 1, had been modified to include roughly $770,000 from federal pandemic allocations. This would reduce the annual tax increase from the original $64 for the median $299,000 house in Guilderland to $52.

Neil Sanders, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, told The Enterprise just after Tuesday’s meeting that the tax rate for the newly adopted plan would probably be calculated by Friday.

Guilderland is still in the midst of completing improvements from a $31 million bond that voters passed in 2019, following the defeat of a bond issue in 2018. The cost of the 2018 proposal was reduced by 28 percent, from $42.7 million to $30.6 million.

A committee was formed to assess facility needs by looking at improvements that were included in the 2018 referendum but not included in the 2019 plan that passed. A subcommittee also met to consider installing a turf playing field at the high school.

So many people spoke in support of the $2.5 million synthetic turf field at the board’s July 27 meeting that several board members, also mindful of one-time federal pandemic funds, favored adding to the project.

For every $500,000 in federal funds applied to the project, the median homeowner would pay about a dollar less in taxes annually.

On Tuesday, Aug. 10, the board decided to add cooling for Guilderland High School and Lynnwood Elementary School at a cost of $215,166 and also to add top priority projects — totaling $4,105,829 — for the middle school and high school that hadn’t made the cut in the current capital project, including bathroom renovations and ventilation.

“We believe that federal money can go to ventilation and outdoor classrooms,” said Sanders.

He noted, however, that approval from the State Education Department is needed so a specific amount for federal funds cannot yet be calculated.

Once state approval is secured, said Sanders, the district “will be able to borrow less,” using the cash on hand — the federal funds — to avoid paying interest for 15 years.

Clifford Nooney, the district’s director of physical plant management, had told the board earlier that 65 percent of all spaces in the district already have air-conditioning — either mechanical or through window units. In answer to questions Tuesday about air-conditioning, he told the board, “It’s something we just chip away at as we go forward.”

“I don’t think we should add anything else,” said board member Blanca Gonzalez-Parker.

If the proposition passes, construction is expected to take place between October 2022 and August 2024.

 

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Set tax rates at $17.36 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for Guilderland residents; $18.66 for Bethlehem; $19.07 for New Scotland; and $34.72 for Knox residents. Tax collection will take place between Sept. 1 and Nov. 1; and

— Met in executive session to discuss litigation strategy on a tax case, negotiations with the Guilderland Teachers' Association, and the board’s strategy on negotiations with the Guilderland District Office Administrators’ Association.

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