Kingston City School District voters Tuesday approved a $137.5 million bond to thoroughly renovate and remodel Kingston High School.
The measure passed 2,265-2,082 – a substantially larger turnout than any recent school budget election. At the district headquarters on Crown Street, the small group of KCSD staffers, school board trustees and citizens erupted into applause and twirled New Year’s Eve-style noisemakers in jubilation.
“I’m very excited,” said KCSD Superintendent Paul Padalino, who thanked the community for its support. “A lot of hard work went into this – we’re very excited to see that hard work pay off.”
“I’m elated,” said Board of Education President Matt McCoy. “I’m glad the community came out and supported our referendum.”
“I’m thrilled,” said Trustee Robin Jacobowitz. “I think this is what our students needed and what our community needed.”
According to Padalino, the state, by law, is required to reimburse the district for 60 percent of eligible construction costs, leaving a net cost for local taxpayers of about $55 million.
Based on current assessments, homeowners with a $200,000 assessment would pay $12 a month ($144 a year) for 20 years, commercial property owners, who are in the city taxed at a higher rate, $17 a month.
The major tentpoles of the plan include the demolition of the Myron J. Michael and Tobin/Whiston buildings, and a sizable addition on the Salzmann building.
As with most major building projects – especially those in public school districts where some work is done during summer when students aren’t around – the proposed renovation would unfold in stages. According to the 27-page document provided by the school district last June, construction would run from spring 2015 through fall 2018, with Tobin/Whiston coming down in summer 2016 and the MJM building in summer 2018, the former coming in at around $1.4 million and the latter roughly $1.5 million.
The Salzmann building would see an addition of 181,400 square feet, with heavy renovation of 23,200 square feet of the existing building and medium renovation of 11,400 square feet. Add in roof replacement; gut renovation of bathrooms; and plumbing, HVAC, electrical and sprinkler systems, and the total estimate in Salzmann is $65,700,000.
With the project not anticipated to be completed until the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, the first group of students who would see the plans come to full fruition are still just midway through middle school.