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GESD officials eye capital project

GLOVERSVILLE — The Gloversville Enlarged School District Board of Education on Sept. 8 heard early details on a possible future capital project that could be sent out for referendum later this year. District officials and project developers have stated that the final proposal will be tailored to ensure the project would have no impact to taxpayers.

The Board of Education in February awarded a contract to CSArch to provide capital project planning with December identified as the target date for a public referendum.

The contract included a $48,500 fee for the preparation of a building condition survey, conceptual solutions to address identified needs, evaluation and selection of preferred concepts, preparation of documents or studies required under the State Environmental Quality Review Act and support to the district surrounding the referendum.

Fees to CSArch for full scale architectural design work and engineering for the capital project will be calculated upon successful passage of the public referendum. CSArch previously served as the architects on the district’s most recent capital project that was approved by voters in 2015.

Michael Andrews of CSArch appeared before the school board on Tuesday to outline projects the firm has identified for possible selection by the district for inclusion in a proposed capital project based on the recently completed building condition study.

Andrews noted that his firm will be working with Turner Construction, the district’s construction managers, to develop cost estimates for the scope of work identified and will meet with school officials and the district’s financial advisors next week to determine the amount of funding available to cover the cost of the project before returning to the board to prioritize projects for final selection for inclusion in the public referendum.

“The goal of this project is to do as much work as we can do with no tax impact or tax increase, so we’re looking to maximize the value of any debt coming off to do infrastructure work or replacements, more of the work we’ve been doing over the last few capital projects,” said Andrews.

Projects recommended by CSArch include full remediation of the playing field at Kingsborough Elementary School in accordance with any requirements of the Department of Environmental Conservation and other involved agencies to clear the recently capped site of any remaining tannery waste for the construction of a bus loop and parking lot to address safety concerns posed by the existing student drop-off location at the front of the school.

Reconfiguration of the existing traffic patterns at Gloversville High School is similarly recommended to improve safety during student arrivals and departures. The installation of secure vestibules at all school buildings and the district administrative office is recommended to allow visitors to be buzzed into a secure area inside of the entrance for screening through the district’s visitor management system before they are fully admitted inside of district buildings.

The replacement of sections of roofs at several school buildings is called for with the goal of replacing all district building roofs over the course of several future capital projects to create a cushion of time between the expiration dates on roof warranties to mitigate risk of widespread failure of building roofs after warranties expire that would financially hamstring the district.

Also proposed is the replacement of wall tiles in Gloversville High School to continue updates to the building’s interior that were started in the main hall during the last capital project.

Andrews additionally presented a concept for a large empty space in the center of the sixth and seventh grade area of Gloversville Middle School that would convert the area into several small breakout rooms where groups of students could work together on projects or with teachers during individualized instruction. The rooms would feature walls largely constructed of windows to allow full supervision of students.

District Superintendent David Halloran noted that the district’s goal in developing the next capital project is to improve safety, the condition of facilities and functionality.

“The traffic patterns at the two campuses mentioned, the secure vestibules and obviously the roofs are the three big pieces of what we’re speaking to. There’s some work ahead, but all in all we know the direction we want to go,” said Halloran.

Halloran reemphasized that the district will only pursue a scope of work that can be completed without any impact to district taxpayers. The cost of the district’s most recent capital project was 98 percent covered through state aid with district reserve funds covering the remaining balance for no tax impact. Despite the state’s financial woes due to the coronavirus that have led to aid reductions to localities of 20 percent, Halloran said there has been no indication to date that the state plans to withhold future capital project funding for school districts.

“They have a constitutional responsibility to ensure the buildings of schools, school buildings in New York state are safe,” he added. “There’s nothing flashy about what we’re proposing here, it’s all health and safety, infrastructure and functionality.”

The superintendent acknowledged that it may be necessary to remove some recommended work from the final project list to ensure there is no tax impact and signaled the district’s willingness to make any necessary changes to balance costs.

“Swing for a homerun and settle for a double if need be,” said Halloran. “We wouldn’t bring a project to the community right now if I was going to go out and ask for more money. If we can do this project without impacting taxes, not only are we going to keep our house in order and help make these buildings safer and more functional and take care of infrastructure things, it does become a revenue stream.”

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