Capital project addresses schools’ essential building needs

To the Editor:

On Tuesday, Oct. 16, Guilderland Central School District residents will head to the polls to decide on a $42.7 million capital construction project. The project includes critical improvements to the safety and security of our buildings and grounds, upgrading aging building systems and infrastructure, and would create modern, healthier, more comfortable learning spaces for students. If approved by the community, construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2020.

We take our responsibility to be good stewards of our community’s investment in our school district’s facilities very seriously. We believe that the proposal up for public vote addresses our most essential building needs.

We’ve been sharing the details of this project since the summer. Throughout our public meetings there were two frequently asked questions about the timing of the vote: Why does the district hold a vote on capital construction in the fall? and Why isn’t the vote being held on the same day as the general election, Nov. 6?

Like many school districts, we hold capital project votes in the fall to begin the roughly 18-month process of completing and receiving State Education Department approval for our architectural and engineering plans. This timeline also positions us to enter the bidding cycle for contractors in early spring, so that construction work can begin as soon as the school year ends. Potentially lower bidding costs in the spring and less disruption to instruction, since construction work is limited to the summer when school is not in session, are factors in setting the vote date.

Why isn’t the vote being held on the same day as the general election, Nov. 6?

We explored the option of holding the vote on the same day of the general election back in February 2018. At the time, we were informed by the Albany County Board of Elections that they cannot hold simultaneous votes on Election Day because it could “create confusion and interfere with operations, while presenting logistical and legal challenges.” For example, there are different ballots, polling locations, and times for the general election and the school vote.

Please take a few minutes on Tuesday, Oct. 16, to cast your ballot. Polls will be open at all of our elementary school buildings, the same polling locations as our annual school budget vote, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information on the building project referendum, please visit www.guilderlandschools.org/capital-construction-project.

Dr. Marie Wiles

Superintendent of Schools

Guilderland

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