November 29, 2006

More on Dryden schools funding opportunity

I was delighted to find a more detailed report on last night's Dryden school board meeting in my inbox, from Kathy Zahler. There are some interesting possibilities here:

Tiffany covers the bare bones pretty well in today's Journal, but here are some specifics from last night's BOE meeting on the EXCEL "grant" from the state.

The state, in what may be either recognition of a serious need or just another way to expand the deficit, has specified a lump sum for every district, which may be used in one or more of these categories: Education Technology, Health and Safety, Accessibility, Physical Capacity Expansion, or Energy. Dryden's lump comes to $578,430, which, taken as the local share in a building project with the state chipping in the rest (Dryden is reimbursed at 81%), allows for approximately a $3 million project. Whatever project happens must be approved by the community via referendum, which would take place in March.

Highland/Christa, the team that brought you the K-5 renovation, did a presentation based on the five-year plan generated in 2005. Because there is still $500K left in the K-5 project, they recommended that the EXCEL project focus only on the middle school/high school.

Among the problems that had been discovered at the MS/HS in the last building review were roof issues; windows and doors that needed replacement; hardware that was inaccessible (for example, on doors); toilets ditto; HVAC issues, especially boilers past their prime; electrical and plumbing updates; need for a new security system (probably card swipe and cameras); replacement of the PA system and the master clocks and fire alarms; upgrading of the sprinkler system ($2 million just for that!); replacement of an electrical panel; repavement of the faculty parking lot; exterior sidewalks and stairs; a new ADA ramp for the MS entrance.

The total for all that came to about $11 million with incidentals built in.

Highland/Christa then presented two packages that approximately equaled the $3 million available for the EXCEL project. One included the roof, windows, doors, HVAC, new security system, PA, master clock, and fire alarms. The other, slightly more expensive package included the roof, HVAC, plumbing, security system, PA, and repavement/sidewalk/stairs/ramp.

Highland/Christa also presented long lists of things that the $500K left in the K-5 project might cover at those three buildings. All three still need roof work; security systems; master clock, PA, and phone updates. Cass and Freeville need gym lighting and ceiling work. DES needs storage, acoustic treatment in the small gym, and a partition in the large gym. The roof on Freeville is especially tricky, since it is made of slate, and Freeville was designated historical during the K-5 debate.

The BOE will be making decisions about what to do with the money over the next month or two. This is above and beyond the $100K that they are earmarking in the budget for building maintenance. (I believe they could spend that money just on roof work, but they have a plan this year involving the HS science labs.) They must have a proposition ready on the EXCEL project by January 22 to present a referendum in March. There will be more discussions, and the public is encouraged to jump in with suggestions/ideas as December progresses.

As for the no-tax-burden, that is partly true. Some suggestions may save money in the long run; e.g., replacing the boilers. Some may add money in the long run; e.g., installing a card security system. It is not clear to anyone whether the district will need to borrow against the state refund of 81%, thus incurring more debt, or whether it will delve into its fund balance. And although EXCEL is definitely a "use it or lose it" program, no one could tell me a real date by which everything needs to take place before Dryden loses the money.

(I do hope to have more Dryden schools reporting here over time. This is a great start - thanks, Kathy!)

Posted by simon at November 29, 2006 12:56 PM in
Note on photos


KAZ said:

The next EXCEL discussion/ meeting will be at 4:30 on Wednesday, December 6, at the HS library.