New faces in Voorheesville; capital project on December ballot

Kristin DuGuay

Kristin DuGuay

NEW SCOTLAND — The Voorheesville School Board at its October meeting signed off on two capital projects totaling over $27 million to send to voters for their approval on Dec. 6. 

The Oct. 3 meeting was also the first regular meeting for new board member Barbara Owens, who was appointed during a special Sept. 27 meeting to fill the seat of James Coffin, who stepped down over the summer. And it marked the almost two-month anniversary of Kristin DuGuay as Clayton A. Bouton High School’s principal. 

 On the ballot on Dec. 6 are two proposals: a $25.2 million “core” project, to use the district’s language, and a $2 million energy performance contract. The district plans to hold an informational meeting on the proposal on Thursday, Nov. 3, at 6:30 p.m.

Approximately $9.9 million worth of work at the elementary school and the construction of a long-sought bus garage, valued at $6.6 million, are at the heart of the proposed project.

The capital project, among other things, would:

— Construct a bus garage behind the high school and across from Cornell Cooperative Extension, parallel to Martin Road;

— Consolidate the elementary administrative and health offices next to the existing bus garage, and then transform the bus garage into the elementary-school cafeteria;

— Install a new secure entrance vestibule at the elementary school; and

— Rework “existing space to create multiple general instructional spaces, including new music and arts classrooms, guidance suite, library makerspace and science labs,” according to the district.

The second proposal on the Dec. 6 ballot won’t have an impact on voters’ tax bill, according to the district. The energy performance contract is paid for with state money and eventual reduced energy costs, which first has upfront costs, like swapping out the district’s old light fixtures for high-efficiency light-emitting diodes, that are borne by the district. 

To pay for the upgrades associated with the energy performance contract, the district is authorized to tap $4.5 million in building-project reserve funds from 2017 and 2018. Any remaining costs would be financed over 30 years, according to the district. 

Superintendent Frank Macri explained on Oct. 3 that the core capital project, currently estimated at $25.2 million, will end up costing $29 million after 30 years. However, the district will receive $17.6 million in state aid for those three decades, which brings down local burden to about $11.6 million. 

The project’s total debt service for the first 15 years would be about $1.42 million per year, with state aid covering about $922,650 and the remaining $497,000 coming from property taxes, which translates to a 2.5-percent increase in the tax levy. The final 15 years of debt servicing would cost about $530,000 annually, with $247,000 per year coming from the state and $276,000 per year from property taxes, and a levy decrease of 1.1 percent.

Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations James Southard said the “current true value” tax rate is approximately $16 per $1,000, meaning that, although the tax rate  per $1,000 of assessed value is about $20 in New Scotland, $18 in Guilderland, and $33 in Berne, the uniform percentage that each municipality is multiplied by — set by the state at 81, 91, and 50 percent respectively — gets those numbers to approximately $16 per $1,000. 

“So two-and-a-half percent of that is essentially 40 cents,” Southard said.

That’s if nothing changes, Southard said, adding, “We know there’s still going to be some growth in the tax rolls.”   

“Because if we don’t do anything, and nothing happens, we can’t meet the needs of our community,” Macri said. “Our enrollment is going to go up, and we will be teaching in hallways.”       

Voorheesville’s expected enrollment growth is a major reason the district is proposing the project. And Voorheesville recently undertook “two enrollment studies to examine its growing population and the effect that may have on school use,” according to the district itself. 

“We’ve known for the past few years that our enrollment is growing,” Macri said at the October meeting. “There’s actually two kinds of bubbles that we’re looking at.”

Macri said the first bubble is currently happening, which is adding between 150 to 200 students. The second bubble, which takes into account the proposed development at Albany Country Club, anticipates enrollment to grow by about 300 students over 10 years, based on a November 2021 study from the Capital District Regional Planning Commission.

A commission study in 2017 estimated that housing stock in the Voorheesville Central School District would increase by about 160 units between 2018 and 2022, which translated into an additional 168 school-aged children. While not an apples-to-apples comparison, the number of school district tax parcels on municipal assessment rolls — New Scotland and Guilderland only — went from 3,740 in 2018 to 3,807 in 2022, an increase of 67. 

Depending on the four-year period, Voorheesville enrollment between 2018 and 2022 increased between 84 (2017-18 to 2021-22) and 113 (2018-19 to 2022-23), according to enrollment data on file with the state Comptroller’s Office. 


New principal

Kristin DuGuay has been Voorheesville high school’s principal for a little over two months.

She took over for Richard Shea, who resigned after a year to return to the City School District of Albany to head up its in-house science, technology, and engineering academy.

“It’s been very busy, but very good,” DuGuay said of her first eight-plus weeks. “We have really exceptional staff and students here.”

She said it’s been a “blessing” to be a part of all the events that have taken place at the start of the new school year — like the homecoming dance, a student-driven initiative with about 200 attendees, which she said had previously not taken place for some time.

It’s been fairly smooth sailing, but the “nicest” thing to happen so far this year has been seeing students participate, DuGuay said. After over two years of pandemic restrictions, “we now have our kids wanting to be a part of things,” DuGuay said; many are playing sports, while others have joined clubs.

“It’s so refreshing and so amazing to see kids being involved,” DuGuay said, while admitting she’s probably got a bit of a rose-colored view as she takes on her first principal job.

Prior to her August hiring, she spent three years as the assistant principal of Schoharie’s combined junior and senior high school, which had approximately 390 students in grades seven through 12, as of the latest enrollment data on file with the state, from the 2020-21 school year.

For comparison, Clayton A. Bouton’s enrollment for 2020-21 was 325 (and 357 in 2021-22), according to the New York State Education Department. 

Prior to Schoharie, DuGuay helped develop and administer a computer science and gaming Pathways in Technology (PTECH) program at the Greater Johnstown City School District, where she had been an English teacher.

There were “so many things” that got DeGuay into teaching, chief among them was her mother, who continues to teach medical assisting at the Hamilton Fulton Montgomery BOCES.

“She’s wonderful at what she does,” DuGuay said of her mother. “And every day, she would come home — good days, bad days, or whatever — she knew she was making a difference. That’s why she’s still teaching today.”

DeGuay decided to teach English, which she did for eight years, because she loved to read and write, a stark contrast from her brother, who struggled with the subject. DeGuay said watching her brother’s struggles made her want to work with kids, especially like her brother, to show them they can learn.

She decided to make the jump to administration on the advice of her former superintendent at Johnstown, who recommended that she apply for a “Teaching Is The Core” Grant, which allowed her to take the four courses needed to qualify for a teacher leadership position and were also four out of the 10 courses needed for school building leadership.

Often a person will pursue other employment opportunities out of view from their current employer, but DeGuay said she decided to submit her résumé to Voorheesville after a conversation with her boss and boss’s boss.

“It was in a great conversation with my principal and my superintendent, and we were talking about things.” DeGuay recalled. “And I saw this position and they’re like, ‘Kristin, you’d be perfect.’”


New trustee

Barbara Owens was appointed to the Voorheesville School Board late last month after Coffin, the school district’s longest-tenured trustee at over three decades, decided to step down. 

Owens moved with her family to Voorheesville about 14 years ago. 

She is the director of development for the Children’s Museum at Saratoga.

She and her husband, Frank, have four children: two graduated from Voorheesville —Ian, Class of 2019, and Maeve, Class of 2021 — and two are still in the district, Erin, a junior, and Griffin, a sixth-grader. 

The family previously lived in Albany, where Ian and Maeve began school.

Asked what drew the family to Voorheesville, Owens said, having lived in the city, “we definitely were looking for a little more space.” And having had several friends who’d either moved to the district or had grown up in Voorheesville, those people “rave about it,” Owens said, “and always talk about the strong academics [and] really tight community.”

As for what made her apply for the short-term appointment, Owens said both she and her husband are firm believers in volunteering and “doing things for our community to make it a stronger place.” Asked about running for a full four-year term in May, Owens said it’s too early in her tenure to decide; however, she has not ruled it out.

Owens is coming onto a board in a very academically strong and affluent district; by any measure, Voorheesville has excellent schools. Asked how she can lend her expertise as a new trustee, Owens, while acknowledging it’s not something that board members typically get involved with, said, “I do a ton of grant writing, and if I could be an asset to the district in any way, in that respect, I certainly would.”

She also said that, in her current position as director of development for the children’s museum, she takes care of a lot of the organization’s finances as well as its fundraising efforts. So, Owens said, “any kind of expertise I can lend in that regard, I’m happy to do so.”


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