Aging building systems, such as the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District’s telephone and energy management systems (which control heating and cooling functions throughout its buildings), are costly and difficult to maintain. They require more attention by maintenance staff. Replacement parts are rare and difficult to find – and therefore expensive. Often, specialists must be called in to keep them in good working order.
These are just some examples of annual challenges Broadalbin-Perth is currently experiencing that district leaders say would all but disappear if residents approve a proposed $39.7 million capital project on Tuesday, May 17.
“Our buildings and grounds team does a fantastic job at taking care of our buildings,” said Superintendent of Schools Stephen Tomlinson. “But it’s just like your home – no matter how well you take care of it, eventually you will have to replace your roof, or your furnace will stop working and you’ll have to get a new one. Things wear out – that’s just a fact of life.”
Many of the aging systems Broadalbin-Perth has been working to maintain were identified as needing attention on the district’s state-mandated 2010 building conditions survey, conducted by architect Ashley McGraw. However, Tomlinson explained that, at the time, Board of Education members chose to delay addressing those needs through a capital project.
“At the time that we were discussing with our community members the results of the 2010 building conditions survey – which was in 2011 and 2012 – we were still in a recession,” Tomlinson said. “Our board members felt that they could not in good conscience ask our community to support a significant investment in our schools through a capital project with so much uncertainty in the economy.”
Instead, Tomlinson said the district has done as much as possible through its annual operating budget to maintain its facilities, address problems as they arose, and keep aging systems working. However, during the past year, the costs associated with maintenance have risen. For example, the district had to spend $5,000 to replace one part of its energy management system at the Perth campus because it could not find the needed parts to repair the component. And in February, the district’s 40-year-old phone system – a necessity for safety and security – went down for 72 hours while technology staff searched for hard-to-find replacement parts; B-P schools opened Monday morning with main office personnel using prepaid cell phones that the district acquired as a final alternative to closing the schools for the day.
“We have used so many band-aids over the past few years to keep our school buildings running, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the band-aids aren’t enough anymore,” Tomlinson said. “I worry every day that one of these essential systems will fail and we’ll have to close our schools until we can fix it. That’s a horrible – and expensive – situation that no one wants to face.”
The 2016 capital project proposal addresses all of the “high-need” items identified in Broadalbin-Perth’s 2015 building conditions survey, conducted by architect CSArch. This includes replacement of the district’s telephone system, 40-year-old energy management system, sections of roofing and flooring and selected windows and doors at both campuses, and the hot water heaters and wastewater disposal systems at the Perth campus. If residents approve the capital project, work is expected to begin as early as summer 2017 to address some of the most critical infrastructure needs.
Residents are invited to learn more about the capital project proposal during an upcoming public presentation; all events begin at 6 p.m.
- Tuesday, April 19 – Capital project forum (Margaret Robin Blowers Auditorium at BPHS)
- Monday, May 2 – Presentation to the PTO (TLC Media Center; public welcome)
- Tuesday, May 10 – Presentation on the budget proposal (Margaret Robin Blowers Auditorium at BPHS)
The district is also preparing a publication about the proposal that will be mailed to all households. Project information will be posted to the district website and shared on the district’s Facebook and Twitter pages and through the district’s mobile app, which is available for Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.
Residents are invited to submit questions about the capital project proposal to district communications specialist Michele Kelley at email@example.com, or anonymously through Patriot Plain Talk. Residents may also contact Kelley with requests for presentations to be made to their community groups.