By completing $39.7 million worth of construction work to repair and improve its buildings and grounds through a capital project, the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District has the opportunity to use state building aid to pay for approximately 80 percent of the project costs, limiting the needed investment from local taxpayers.
Capital projects allow school districts to invest in their facilities – to make repairs, renovations and updates necessary to address health, safety, learning and working environment issues – with significantly less financial pressure upon local taxpayers and school budgets. Without capital projects, school districts would have to find ways to fund this work through their annual operating budgets with no state building aid incentive.
New York state requires all school districts to thoroughly examine their facilities with the help of architects and engineers and complete a building conditions survey every five years. The survey team conducts a visual inspection of all school buildings and grounds to assess the current conditions of all program spaces (i.e., classrooms, gymnasiums), major building systems and their components, and site amenities (i.e., parking lots, lighting). The purpose of the building conditions survey is to assess the buildings for evidence of structural failure or deterioration and to determine or re-examine their useful life, need for repair and maintenance, and need for reconstruction and replacement.
Broadalbin-Perth’s 2010 building conditions survey, conducted by architect Ashley McGraw, showed more than $18 million worth of infrastructure needs. At the time of the 2010 building conditions survey, district leaders worked with committees of faculty, staff and community members and eventually determined the community could not support a significant capital project in the midst of the recession.
During the subsequent years, members of the district maintenance staff have worked to keep aging systems operational. However, delaying addressing the needs identified on the 2010 building conditions survey has not made them go away. On the contrary: The district’s 2015 building conditions survey, conducted by architect CSArch, showed approximately $25 million worth of infrastructure needs. Items that the district could not immediately address through its annual operating budget have been included in the capital project proposal.
Most of these items represent one-time expenditures that would be next to impossible to pay for out of the district’s annual operating budget, which residents vote on each May. State lawmakers recognize this and have long offered financial incentives in the form of state building aid for school districts to take care of their facilities through capital projects. State building aid is only available on work completed as part of a capital project. It is not available for facilities work completed as part of a school district’s annual operating budget.
If residents do not approve the capital project on May 17, issues related to health, safety and infrastructure would remain and have the potential to disrupt students’ educational environment. Broadalbin-Perth would still have to address these issues on a case-by-case basis, and all costs for that work would have to be paid from the district’s operating budget in the same year the expenses were incurred, without any state aid reimbursement. If work has to be done on an emergency basis, it would likely be more costly and could potentially disrupt the learning process. Paying for these projects would be further complicated by the fact that the state’s tax cap law has severely limited the district’s ability to raise local taxes to support the operating budget. New York state also continues to underfund schools based on its own foundation aid formula. By funding infrastructure needs through the general fund – and not a capital project – it is possible that the district would have to cut academic programs and services for students to maintain a balanced budget.
The district would also have the option of revising the capital project and presenting voters with a different proposal at a later date. However, there would be further wear and tear on the buildings in the meantime, which could increase costs overall.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or anonymously through Patriot Plain Talk. Residents may also contact Kelley with requests for presentations to be made to their community groups.