Voters OK $52.9M school bond in New Paltz

np middle school HZT

Voters approved a $52.9 million renovation plan to fix New Paltz’s school buildings Tuesday night. Principal Richard Wiesenthal, center, leads district officials on a tour of the aging New Paltz Middle School prior to the vote. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Sometimes a second chance pays off – as it did Tuesday night for the New Paltz Central School District. Voters approved the $52.9 million capital improvement bond 1,913 to 1,518.

Turnout for the election was high – 3,431 people showed up to vote, just slightly fewer than the 2010 middle school renovation vote.


Back in October, voters rejected the same $52.9 million renovation plan 1,380 to 1,230. District officials said they were unsure what’d changed minds. However, Tuesday’s vote was also more decisive – it won by 395, compared to the 150-vote loss in the autumn.

For Brian Cournoyer, the school board president in New Paltz, the night showed that this time around they’d done better at communicating the facts.

“I’m relieved that this is going to happen now. Our buildings really need it,” Cournoyer said. “It’s good news for our district, good news for our community and good news for our kids.”

Superintendent Maria Rice was also pleased with the result and turnout.

“It’s a capital project we desperately need, and now we can move forward,” Rice said.

The 2015 renovation plan calls for work to be done at all the school buildings. Here’s how the money will be spent at each:

  • $2.5 million for Duzine Elementary School
  • $1.6 million for Lenape Elementary School
  • $35.4 million for the middle school
  • $13.4 million for the high school

According to the district, for a house assessed at $200,000 the project will mean approximately $40 additional in school tax each year.

Breaking with a history of ‘no’

New Paltz voters very rarely vote down a school budget, but special initiatives are another story. Tuesday night’s win breaks a momentum of losses for the district.

Here’s a look back at how special elections have played out through the years:

  • Feb. 2010: A $49.78 million bond initiative to repair New Paltz Middle School and relocate the district office fails by more than 2-1. In all, 2,561 vote against the plan, while 983 vote for it.
  • April 2012: Plans to purchase 22.4 acres for $798,000 near Lenape Elementary School on Route 32 South do not cut the mustard with voters. In all, 1,363 voters say no to the land purchase, while 382 say yes.
  • Oct. 2014: Voters in New Paltz reject the $52.9 million bond – identical to the one passed on Tuesday night. In all, 1,380 vote against the plan, while 1,230 vote for it.
  • Jan. 2015: After October’s narrow loss, school board members put forth the exact same $52.9 million renovation plan for a Jan. 27 special election. Winter storms forced the district to postpone until Tuesday’s election.

There are 2 comments

  1. vince

    When does “no” mean “no?” Having a vote only months after the initial decision is aggressive and undemocratic. There’s only so many times you can go to the well before it runs dry? Let’s talk a hard the salaries and benefits. From my perspective, the adminstration is top heavy and overpaid, working only 2/3 off the year…. What a great gig if you can get it. While providing children with a 21st century education is paramount, let’s not use the them as pawns to drive up our taxes.

  2. Bob

    So when they didn’t like the outcome of the first vote they had a second election. Now can those who were against the bond issue request another vote because they don’t like the most recent result? And if not, why not?
    If the NO can be overturned why can’t the YES?
    This is why older homeowners on fixed incomes are forced to sell their lifelong homes because they can’t afford to live in them. School taxes should be more equally paid by ALL residents of the community that use the school system. Home owners should not be always footing the entire bill. A renter with 10 kids in the school system pays ZERO.

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