How they arrived at the project in the first place
The board arrived at the proposed project after devoting more than a year to holding public hearings, analyzing data and consulting with professionals. Schools superintendent Maria Rice and the New Paltz BOE say they’re only doing the most critical work that has to be done. Many of the problems have not been addressed in the past due to lack of maintenance, she says, but because the district was unable to pass a capital project and simply because so much of the facilities have outlived their useful lives.
A “no” vote doesn’t mean the work won’t get done; it just means that the money will have to come from elsewhere. In addition, a capital project financed through this bond issue means that the project is eligible for maximum state aid.
Other options were considered, including a $24.3 million proposal to tackle only the infrastructure problems, and several options that would have involved consolidation of facilities, closing one or more of the district’s four schools. The consolidations would have amounted to a greater increase in the tax levy, say the board — as much as six percent more, rather than the one percent in the approved proposal — and in the end, using the Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan developed in February of this year as a guide, the $52.9 million project was deemed to be the least costly to taxpayers while meeting the educational needs of district students.
The board maintains that the figures demonstrate that a four-campus model, renovating all of the buildings, is ultimately less expensive than consolidating to a three-campus model (which would cost between $82 and $87.5 million) or a two-campus model (estimated to cost $107.3 million).
What a “yes” vote on the bond will pay for
Much of the work involves replacing failed, outdated systems and infrastructure and providing for the safety and health of students and staff along with adequate space to meet the demands of the educational programs. A great deal of the work needs to be done at the middle school, which is the oldest facility in the district and the most degraded and lacking in space, but the project will involve work at all four schools.
What will happen if the bond does not pass
At the recent School Board meeting on Wednesday, January 7, a high school student asked the board during the public comment portion of the session what their next course of action would be if the vote doesn’t pass this time. “We would not be able to put the same project up a third time,” said board president Brian Cournoyer. “We haven’t really discussed what the next step would be.”
Tour of middle school
The New Paltz BOE has one more tour of the middle school scheduled for Thursday, January 22 at 7 p.m. Residents are invited to tour the facilities at the middle school, located at 196 Main Street, to see the existing conditions firsthand. The tour will be conducted by Richard Wiesenthal, middle school principal and Stephen Callahan, director of school facilities and operations.
When and where to vote
The vote will be held on Tuesday, January 27 at the New Paltz High School at 130 South Putt Corners Road. Voting hours have been expanded this time around, with polls open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Applications for an absentee ballot are available online at www.newpaltz.k12.ny.us/absentee. As of press time, absentee ballot applications must be returned in person to the district clerk at the middle school at 196 Main Street by Monday, January 26. Absentee ballots must be received in the district office at 1 Eugene L. Brown Dr. by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, January 27. More information is available by calling the district clerk at (845) 256-4031.
For more information, visit www.newpaltz.k12.ny.us/project.