Fresh off the completion of the $137.5 million Kingston High School Second Century Project, KCSD school officials are contemplating a sweeping five-year $107.1 million capital plan that would cover its two middle schools and seven elementary schools.
The key piece of the five-year proposal is air-conditioning, though other upgrades are also included.
“It’s not really possible to do only the air conditioning without including the related infrastructure upgrades,” said Armand Quadrini, managing principal of KSQ Design, the New York City and Tulsa, Oklahoma-based architecture firm that’s had a long relationship with the district. “So air conditioning means in many cases a greater electrical circuit inventory. Air conditioning in and of itself doesn’t address the deficient ventilation conditions in the schools.”
Removing non-air-conditioning work from the proposal would leave an $88.6 million project; doing everything else without the air-conditioning would cost $45.3 million.
“The five-year plan without the air conditioning is costly,” said trustee Nora Scherer during a School Board meeting held on Wednesday, January 5. “But the air conditioning is quite affordable if you do all the other upgrades. And we’ll end up having all of our buildings upgraded.”
In addition to air-conditioning, projects in the proposal include…
• M. Clifford Miller Middle School: $13.7 million for wood floor reinforcing, elevator renovation, exterior rescue ladders, science lab improvements, and fixing a water leak over the auditorium stage.
• J. Watson Bailey Middle School: $29.4 million to add 80 parking spaces, new water services, concrete curb replacement, replacing windows and roofing, main office renovations, repair of a gym divider roof beam, refurbishing the kitchen loading dock, and a renovation of the auditorium.
• Chambers Elementary School: $6 million to add 30 parking spaces, repair walkways, exterior playground and drainage improvements, replace exterior Kindergarten doors, undergo restroom upgrades, replace the kitchen grease interceptor, add water bottle fill stations, add a portable generator hook-up, and upgrade the fire alarm system.
• Crosby Elementary School: $8.3 million for 33 additional parking spaces, exterior walkway repair, playground relocation, installing window shades, replacing the metal ceiling in the kitchen, renovating the cafeteria, and upgrading the fire protection system.
• Myer Elementary School: $9.7 million for 14 new parking spaces, sewer system replacement, exterior stair replacement, resurfacing the playground, replacing termite-damaged floors, replacing 62-year-old windows, and refurbishing interior stairs and railings.
• George Washington Elementary School: $13.4 million for green upgrades to the outdoor and community activity areas, parking lot repaving, exterior lighting, facade brick repointing, adding an elevator, installing rescue windows, and auditorium renovation.
• Harry L. Edson Elementary School: $10.2 million for sidewalk and access improvements, repaving the path to the lower recreation field, adding windows, restroom renovations, fire protection system upgrades, replacing kitchen waste piping, adding water bottle fill stations, installing a portable generator hook up, and fire alarm system upgrades.
• John F. Kennedy Elementary School: $5.1 million for interior door replacements, restroom renovation, replacing water lines, refurbishing kitchen waste piping, adding water bottle filling stations, fire alarm upgrades, and public address system upgrades.
Graves Elementary School: $11.3 million to create a new parent pickup area and new bus area, replace soccer field drains, add a canopy to a portable building, replace windows, restroom renovations, and replace wood doors and frames.
Superintendent Paul Padalino said he expects to return to the School Board sometime in February with financing options.
“Our plan is to sit down, look at these numbers and come up with several different scenarios for the board,” he said. “We’re looking at the possibility of an energy performance contract, we’re looking at the SAFE Schools bonding act, as well as using our capital reserve. There are several different ways to pull money into this to make it have the lowest impact on our taxpayers as possible.”
The Second Century referendum passed in December 2013 by a narrow margin of 2,265-2,082. Work performed during the project included the razing of the Myron J. Michael and Tobin-Whiston buildings, the addition of two new wings, extensive renovations of the original high school building, and upgrades to Kate Walton Field House. Even with the inclusion of the air-conditioning installation, the project still came in at around $14.5 million under budget. Last autumn, the School Board approved a $1.5 million project to install air-conditioning in the main building at KHS.
“The buildings that they have worked on are beautiful,” said trustee Herb Lamb. “They look like new facilities. And if we don’t continue to do this kind of work we’ll end up needing new facilities instead, which are much more costly.”
Though the five-year plan was not put up for vote by the School Board at its January 5 meeting, several trustees expressed enthusiasm for the project.
“We’re paying for some of the years we had to squeak by and not do maintenance that we wanted to do,” said Lamb. “It’s time to enter the 21st century and actually put the electrical systems in.”
Board President James Shaughnessy agreed.
“There was a period of time where we went many, many years, and even decades without doing very much upgrades or maintenance…on our buildings,” Shaughnessy said. “But as we go along, we really want to keep our buildings in prime condition on an ongoing basis. We’re going to have these five-year capital plans ongoing, every five years, with investments needed in order to maintain the buildings in the condition that gives us the physical environment that we want to educate our students in.”
Shaughnessy said there was still considerable work to be done before any plan might go before the public. “Any work of this type would require a referendum — voter approval — and long-term bonding,” he said. “How we do that and when we do that is something that would have to be discussed.”
The next meeting of the KCSD Board of Education was scheduled for Wednesday, January 19.