Highland voters will decide on $8 million capital project

(Photo by Lauren Thomas)

“The timing is right for us to move forward,” said Highland Board of Education President Alan Barone at the recent BOE meeting on Tuesday, March 20, about the proposed $8 million capital project the board voted 7-0 to put before voters this May.

Back in October of 2014, a $17.5 million capital project was approved by Highland district voters following the rejection of a $25 million capital project in the election earlier that same year. This current project of $8 million will, if passed, essentially pay for the items taken off the work list when the $25 million project was reduced to $17.5. The board has maintained all along that the work has always been necessary, removed from the list of work to be done only to gain voter support for a smaller project after the rejection of the $25 million proposal.

The $8 million funding would allow the district to continue with infrastructure and health and safety upgrades that include a sewer pump upgrade at the high school, replacement of HVAC dampers, work on the library roof and building perimeter lighting. The middle school would get emergency lighting and rehabilitation of the basketball court. The bus garage needs a generator and the elementary school an upgrade to unit vents, the heating system and building perimeter lighting. The complete list of work the project would allow is on the district website at www.highland-k12.org.

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A portion of the project would be funded through $425,000 from the district’s capital reserve fund, and projects would be eligible for state aid. The remainder will be paid by a tax levy, but because there is old debt being retired, there will be little impact to taxpayers in approving the $8 million project.

The election on May 15 will also include a vote for three school board trustee seats currently held by Mike Bakatsias, Ed Meisel and Debbie Pagano, a bus proposition and the annual budget vote for the 2018-19 school year.