Since the start of the 2020-21 school year, Hudson Falls Central School district has made safety its number one focus. That has meant masks, social distancing, and increased cleaning of our buildings. Another way we are working to increase safety is through research into a facilities renovation project.
Just like a home, school facilities need regular attention and upkeep to continue to operate year after year as originally intended. The cost of keeping up with the daily wear and tear caused by thousands of students, staff, and visitors can rise above what the annual school budget can support. Renovation projects, also referred to as Capital improvement projects, are a way for school districts to access state aid to complete a larger amount of facilities work than possible within the scope of the annual school budget. New York State Aid will cover approximately 65-70% of the district’s expenditures to offset the cost of these improvements.
On Tuesday, Oct. 13 at its regular meeting, the Hudson Falls Central School District Board of Education rolled out its plans for a capital improvement project that would address some of those needs.
“We began this work two years ago when we sold the Burgoyne Avenue school building,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Jon Hunter. “We have named it ‘The Hudson Falls Future Project.’ It’s this forward thinking that has defined the essential maintenance, safety and targeted school improvements for our students and community as we move our schools and education into the future.”
The project will be broken up into three phases. The goal of a multiple-staged project will allow the district to meet these safety and instructional needs during the difficult financial times during the current COVID pandemic.
“COVID made us look at our project in a different light,” said Executive Director of Business and Human Resources Kevin Polunci. “We want to make sure that our work provides the biggest benefit for the lowest cost to our taxpayers. So that’s why we are giving the Board of Education multiple project options.”
Phase 1 addresses repairs and upgrades that are critical and essential now to meet code requirements, aging roofs and safety needs, as well as consideration for improvements to our high school auditorium and potentially, the library. The Board of Education will decide among project options at their upcoming November meeting.
“We have developed for the Board to assess numerous project concepts that will have no new tax impact,” said Polunci. “In addition, a final project option has a scope of work that would be no more than $7 per year on a home valued at at $150,000 (the median price in the Town of Hudson Falls).”
“With that additional seven dollars, our taxpayers could fund future-ready facilities that will level the playing field for our students,” said Hunter.
“The board is very excited about the possibility of this capital project,” said Board of Education President Benjamin Bishop. “Our district leadership, March Associates, and the Buildings and Grounds committee have done a great job presenting to the board a number of options that strike an important balance between school safety, infrastructure and potential enhancements to our auditorium and library while remaining cognizant of the financial situation school districts and families find themselves in across the state. Investing in these areas now will not only enhance educational opportunities for our students, it also helps to keep the district on solid financial footing in the years to come. The modernization of our facilities has to happen and this project is a good first step towards that goal.”
In all Phase I renovation options the bulk of this work will be focused on the safety and security of our buildings district-wide. Repairs include asbestos abatement, upgrades to district air filtration systems, addressing expired roof warranties at the Primary School and High School, and replacing the boilers in the High School.
Upgrades to security district-wide will also be addressed through securing building entryways, additional camera systems, and doors.
Nov. 10: Board of Education meeting
The board will make a decision to move forward on a defined scope with a defined cost.
Dec. 8: Board of Education meeting (TBD)
If the board does decide to move forward, at the Dec. 8 regular board of education meeting, the Board will adopt a resolution to approve the project and establish a community referendum.
December 2020 and February 2021
Throughout the months of December and February, information will be shared with the community,
Tentative February 2021 referendum
To be determined, a February 2021 vote date.
Tentative May 2022
If approved in February by the community, the work will begin May 2022 with an estimated completion date of September 2023.