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PROJECT Q&A

1. How was the work in the new project identified?

Every public school district in New York state is required to undertake a building condition survey every five years. In 2015-16, the District worked with architects at Tetra Tech to conduct the mandated survey which identified the following areas of need: infrastructure-based, such as the upgrading of electric panels, the replacement of inefficient heating and cooling units, plumbing improvements, roof replacements, installation of energy efficient lighting, masonry work for stairs and sidewalk replacements, health and safety issues, and technology upgrades to improve instruction.

2. How can a $36.9 million project result in no new taxes?

The district has existing bond payments that will be retired over the next three years. These are greater than the projected cost of the new project. If the capital project is approved by the voters, improvements to the school facilities can be made with no additional cost to the community by timing the issuance of the bonds associated with the new project to coincide with the retirement of the existing bonds from previous projects.

3. Wouldn’t it have been better for the district to include some funds in its annual budget each year to complete this work?

When expenditures for improvements and major repairs are paid for from the general budget fund, they are not eligible for any reimbursement from the state. When integrated in a capital project, the state reimburses Minisink at a rate of 75 percent for the same improvements and repairs. The project’s work plans and specifications are submitted to the NYS Education Department for approval, prior to the start of any renovations or improvements.

he 75 percent building aid is paid to the district over 15, 20 or 30 years respectively, for renovations, additions or new buildings. The district issues bonds to pay for the project over 15, 20 or 30 years to align the bond payments with the building aid received from the state. A capital project with state building aid allows the district to be fiscally responsible while protecting the community’s investment in our schools.

The timed combination of building aid and retiring debt would allow the district to complete a $36 million project for $9 million. 

4. When would the capital project work begin? When is it expected to be completed?

If the voters approve the project on February 7, the first major portion of the work would begin in the summer of 2018, with additional project work to be completed in 2019 and 2020. To minimize disruption to the school year, the work would be phased over three years and take place primarily during the summer months.

5. Why does the capital project include the construction of a new cafeteria at the high school?

The existing cafeteria, built in 1974, is outdated and does not meet the needs of our high school students. The new cafeteria would increase seating capacity from 250 to 400+, improve flexibility in scheduling student course requests, provide greater access through two major hallways and ease student traffic during period changes. The new layout would also allow for multiple serving stations and provide more food choices to better accommodate student needs.

The proposed addition includes a multi-purpose outdoor seating area, ideal for student lunch periods and other school events, weather permitting. The new roof on the proposed cafeteria includes the installation of a series of solar panels to generate electricity and reduce the building’s reliance on outside utilities.

6. What happens if the voters do not approve the capital project?

If residents do not approve the capital project on February 7, the district will prioritize building needs based on health and safety concerns. This remedial work would be paid from the district’s general fund budget and require reductions in other operations. The tax cap limits the district’s ability to generate new revenue to pay for these major expenditures.

The general fund budget always includes allocations for routine repairs and maintenance. However, the proposed capital project looks beyond mandated repairs and upgrades to address major infrastructure needs that protect the community’s long-term investment in our school facilities, and their ability to meet instructional needs for the 21st century.

The district could defer some of the proposed capital project work, but the delay could result in more serious and costly infrastructure issues, and greater disruption to instructional time and student achievement.