Q. Why is the District proposing a capital project?
A. Byron-Bergen Central School District is committed to exercising care and good judgment in managing the community resources with which we are entrusted. We need to continue to take care of our schools, an important asset the community owns. Just as one’s home ages and needs upkeep and repairs to keep it in good shape, so too do our schools. The District is addressing its highest-priority facilities issues now, rather than delaying and facing future higher costs and further deterioration.
Q. How was the proposed capital project developed?
A. Over the past several years, the District administration and Board of Education have been developing a long-range facilities plan to assess current and future capital improvement needs and the means to responsibly achieve them. During this process, critical safety upgrades and building preservation needs were identified and prioritized, as were opportunities to enrich our students through academic program enhancements. To evaluate conditions at all facilities, the District utilized its Building Condition Survey (BCS), which is mandated by the State to be conducted every five years.
Additionally, the District considered work completed in previous projects and met with building principals and the Board of Education to discuss instructional indicatives requiring attention. The District and its consultants then reviewed all recommendations over several meetings and developed the project’s scope, delivery timeline, and financing options to develop a reasonable and responsible project that would have no additional tax impact on our community.
Q. What needs does the project address?
A. The proposed project focuses on four key areas: 1) Health, safety and security; 2) Asset preservation; (3) Academic programming enhancements; and (4) Energy efficiency.
Q. What is the total cost of this proposed project and how can it have no additional tax impact?
The total cost of the project is $17,107,802. The majority of the project will be paid for using available State Building Aid. The District’s capital reserve fund, which is designated to be used exclusively for capital improvement projects, will pay for $2,000,000 of the “local share.” The remainder of the project’s cost will be offset by retiring debt service payments, resulting in a “tax neutral” financing plan.[TT1]
Q. Isn’t State Aid just my tax dollars too?
A. Yes, it is. The New York State Legislature has given all Districts in the state an opportunity to use tax dollars to enhance their communities through school building improvements and renovations. This is an opportunity to keep some of those tax dollars in our own community, working to improve the educational setting for our children and the public.
Q. When will the work take place?
A. It’s expected that the State Education Department’s approval for the project’s initial phase would be received by fall 2022, allowing work to begin in early 2023. The bulk of the work would take place during the summer months of 2023-2024 to maximize student safety and minimize program disruption, with final completion anticipated in fall 2024.
Q. What if the referendum does not pass?
A. The critical safety requirements and building preservation needs would still be absolutely necessary. If the referendum does not pass, these requirements would still need to be addressed. A bond vote allows the District to receive partial reimbursement of the project’s cost through State Building Aid. Without the State’s aid, the funds for any required work would have to come from the annual budget, with local taxpayers bearing the full cost.
Q. Where can I find out more about the capital project?
A. A Public Information Meeting with an open forum for questions and answers will be held on Thursday, September 30, at 6:30 p.m. in the High School Auditorium. Project information is also available at www.bbschools.org.