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 Capital Project Information

Six hundred and one people turned out to vote in Salmon River School District's $36.5 million capital project vote, which was held in the SRC high school auditorium October 22, 2013. District voters approved funding for the capital project 382-212. However, voters rejected proposition two, 425-176, which would have allowed the district to build a synthetic turf field.

The scope of the project includes renovations and improvements to boilers, the water system, plumbing, roofs, ventilation, electrical, exterior, classrooms throughout all three school buildings, the high school gymnasium, and the bus garage; asbestos abatement and field work. Approximately 147,000 square feet of leaking and deteriorating roofs and ventilation systems that haven't been upgraded since the 1950s and 60s will be among the most important upgrades.

After voters turned down the previous project proposal in March, a Capital Project Committee was formed to review the scope of the work and provide feedback to the Buildings and Grounds Committee. The committee recommended the removal of a bus wash and indoor track for the high school gymnasium which amounted to approximately $2.8 million. The Department of Health however, has since directed the district to develop a new water source. Water upgrades are budgeted at approximately $2.4 million

"I want to thank the community for turning out to support the project," said Collins after the tallies were announced. "I'm looking forward to refining the design process and working with the staff and the board."

The project will be funded with a combination of NYS building aid, NYS EXCEL aid, NYS Native American Aid and District debt reserves.  The Native American Aid will be based on the percentage of enrollment of Native American students who reside on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation and is funded at the beginning of the project.  EXCEL aid is an additional funding amount provided by the State as an incentive for schools to undertake a capital project.  This project would be allowed to use $410,000.  EXCEL funding would be provided once the project has started.  NYS building aid would be reimbursed over the life of the project at a rate of 98% and funding would begin once the final cost report is filed with the state.  District debt reserves would cover the remaining $414,360 that the other aid streams do not cover.  The debt reserve was set up by the District at the beginning of the previous capital project so that proceeds from low interest bonds and refunding bonds could be maintained to pay future debt payments.

Capital Project Q&A

General Financial Questions

Q. How will the project be funded?
A. The project will be funded with a combination of NYS building aid, NYS EXCEL aid, NYS Native American Aid and District debt reserves. The Native American Aid will be based on the percentage of enrollment of Native American students who reside on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation and is funded at the beginning of the project. EXCEL aid is an additional funding amount provided by the State as an incentive for schools to undertake a capital project. This project would be allowed to use $410,000. EXCEL funding would be provided once the project has started. NYS building aid would be reimbursed over the life of the project at a rate of 98% and funding would begin once the final cost report is filed with the state. District debt reserves would cover the remaining $414,360 that the other aid streams do not cover. The debt reserve was set up by the District at the beginning of the previous capital project so that proceeds from low interest bonds and refunding bonds could be maintained to pay future debt payments.

Q. How will my taxes be affected if one or both propositions pass?
A. There will be no local tax impact for the capital improvement project if the first proposition passes. If the second proposition passes, the cost of construction would also have no local tax impact. However, the district would need to set up a reserve to cover the potential cost of turf replacement. This reserve will need approximately $50,000 a year, which would cause an increase to the tax levy. This increase would cost an average homeowner an estimated $14 per $50,000 of assessed value.

Q. Why hasn’t the project cost decreased?
A. While we eliminated the bus wash and indoor track, which amounted to approximately $2.8 million, the Department of Health has since directed the district to develop a new water source. This could be done by connecting to a municipal water treatment system or through the development of a new water treatment system. Water upgrades are budgeted at approximately $2.4 million. Additionally, the budget consists of a 4% increase over the previous project due to inflation.

Q. What happens if the State wants to reduce aid for capital projects?
A. NYS building aid is not the same as the foundation aid that covers the day to day operations of the schools that have been drastically cut in the past several years. Historically, when changes have been made to NYS building aid, the state has not reduced or cut back its commitment to pay aid at a particular aid ratio on projects already approved and being aided. Existing projects have essentially been grandfathered at the aid that was already calculated. When a new tier of aid has been authorized, resulting is some sort of aid ratio change, past policy has applied the new aid ratio to capital projects without current voter approval or approval by the Commissioner of Education. Revised aid ratios have never been applied to projects already being aided. Salmon River had a ratio of 94% prior to 1998, 95% between 1998 and 2005 and is currently at a ratio of 98% state aid. It would be to Salmon River’s advantage to act now, as these aid ratios could go down in the future.

Q. Does the District have a reserve to cover future debt payments?
A. The District currently has a debt reserve set up for future debt payments associated with capital projects. The reserve has $572,357 in the account as of 6/30/13. This balance will be used to offset years in which the state aid payments are less than the principal and interest payments that are due. Therefor there will be no local tax impact for the debt service payments.

Q. Part of the cost of the projects may be paid from the state, but doesn’t that money really come from my pocket?
A . Yes, it does. Most state money comes from income tax and sales tax paid by all New York residents and businesses across the state. But these taxes are taxes we will all pay whether or not Salmon River’s capital project is approved. The school district has the responsibility to assure that all the money it spends (both from state and local sources) is spent wisely. That is why renovation priorities were weighed carefully. The failing water system, leaking roofs, and deteriorating buildings are just as real as other school districts receiving state aid.

Q. What will happen if the project bids come in higher than expected?
A. If project bids come in higher than expected, the alternate bids will not be included in the project work. The Architects and Construction Managers will review the bids and look for ways to revise the scope of the work to lower the bids. This can be done in a variety of ways such as changing materials used or combining contracts. The total project scope cannot exceed the voter authorization and include a contingency budget for unforeseen costs during the project.

Q. Will there be any savings to the District By upgrading the facilities?
A. The District will see savings with energy efficient upgrades to the boilers, increased insulation and new doors and windows. Others areas of savings will be in decreased maintenance costs for repairs to the current systems such as the roofs, boilers and water system. The elementary renovations will allow for that area to utilize the current geo-thermal system and reduce the District’s use of fuel oil. In the last capital project 100,000 square feet were added to the building. These additions were heated with the geo-thermal system without increasing the consumption of fuel. In 2008-09 the building used .53 gallons of oil per square foot. In 2012-13 the building used .43 gallons of oil per square foot.

Questions related to the scope of work

Q. Why didn’t the District fix these systems in the first project?
A.The previous project only allowed for approximately $28M in renovations to be done based on NYS Facilities Planning maximum cost allowances. The priority of the District at that time was to create a Middle School and ensure that the necessary abatement was performed in the areas that were occupied by the students. To accomplish this there were many renovations that needed to be done. The District carefully planned the project so all aid could be maximized and the remaining work could be completed in a second phase. By completing the additions first we were able to increase our maximum cost allowance for future project to $55M.

Q. Why should we move all the students to the middle of the building?
A. The classrooms will move to the middle of the building to provide additional security measures. There will be locking fire doors that would close off access to classrooms and would give teachers and student additional time to get to safety in an emergency situation. In addition, moving classrooms together would allow for more collaboration with grade levels and less time would be lost going from classroom to the special subjects.

Q. What we are going to do with all the classrooms that get walls?
A. Typical enclosed classrooms are being developed from open classroom spaces. This results in rooms which are acoustically better and also address security concerns. Enclosed classrooms are being constructed in areas that are currently open classrooms.

Q. Will there be any additions in the project?
A. The only additions planned in this project are to accommodate the new bus lift, greenhouse and a sugar shack. The local cost of the sugar shack and greenhouse will be paid for by the FEH Boces and will be used for the agricultural program.

Q. Will there be a cost to maintain the new project upgrades?
A. Since the building footprint will not be expanded there will be no additional maintenance costs to the upgrades. The project upgrades will provide many energy upgrades that will save money on heating and cooling. Systems such as heating, electrical, water and plumbing currently require costly repairs on an annual basis. New systems will require less maintenance and save the District money on repair costs. There will be no increase in staffing due to the project.

Q. How can we have accurate costs for a project that is a year and a half away?
A. Costs include the appropriate contingencies and escalations and are based on the timing of the schedule. The District can only spend up to the budget authorized by the voters.

Q. Could local workers be hired?
A. Our construction managers would encourage participation by local contractors, as well as possible development of bid packages which would allow for local participation. However according to NYS Wicks Laws the District is required to hire the lowest bidder regardless of where the workforce is located.

Q. How will the project be bid?
A. During the preliminary planning phase the District will decide what aspects of the project will be considered top priority and be included in the base bid. Other areas that are not considered high priority will be considered as alternates depending on if the base bids come in lower than projected or higher. Alternates can help protect the budget and also gives the District options for additional work to be performed throughout the project.

Q. Why do we need to expand the bus garage and add more bays?
A. The bus garage needs to be expanded to accommodate the length of the new buses. Currently the new buses only fit on 1 lift. This limits the flexibility for maintenance of the buses. The project would also look at the possibility of adding an additional lift for smaller buses and vehicles.

Q. Why do we need more athletic fields?
A. Currently our athletics teams are bussed to the St. Regis Mohawk School and other area fields for practices. This uses District money to transport the students and takes time away from the practices. During the fall and spring sports seasons we do not have enough soccer/lacrosse fields to support our growing programs. Additionally new laws do not allow modified players to be on the same fields as the varsity players. This continues to limit our available fields.

Q. Would solar power be a feasible option for the District?
A. The design team had considered solar power and would during the future design phases. Solar power may be a viable option for certain elements of the project.

Q. The last project approved for $49.8 million was supposed to include the fitness center and gym renovations, why weren’t they included?
A. The fitness center was included in the original $74 million project scope. Due to limits imposed by the NYS Facilities Planning the project had to be split into 2 phases to stay within the maximum cost allowance allowed by the State. That project was presented to the voters in 2 phases that would be completed over a five to seven year span. The fitness center was included in phase 2 and was not included in the first phase that was presented to the voters on February 28th. The high school gym renovations were supposed to be completed in phase 1. These renovations had to be removed due to extensive abatement that was discovered during construction. However, the locker rooms for the HS were renovated.

General questions related to a possible synthetic turf playing field

Q. Why are we considering a synthetic turf field?
A. The field located adjacent to the bus garage has been plagued with drainage issues. The community has the option of investing in fixing the drainage on the existing field or investing in a synthetic turf field. The Board has decided to put the option before the voters.

Q. What happens if the synthetic turf proposition passes and the main project does not pass?
A. Proposition # 2 (Synthetic Turf) as it appears on the ballot, will allow the District to invest in such a field ONLY IF proposition #1 passes.

Q. How long will synthetic turf last?
A. Synthetic turf is estimated to last approximately 10-12 years before needing to be replaced.

Financial questions related to a possible synthetic turf playing field

Q. How will the District pay for the replacement of the synthetic turf?
A. Turf fields are projected to last 11 years before requiring replacement. NYS will only aid replacement after a 15-year time frame. Therefore, if the turf fails before 15 years have passed, the costs would fall to the district and subsequently the taxpayers, costing approximately $500,000. To assure its continued use and eventual replacement, the district would set up a reserve over the next ten years that would create an estimated $14 annual impact on taxpayers per $50,000 of assessed home value. Without a reserve, a failed field could not be replaced until the 15 years are reached and could not be used for athletic events for safety reasons.

The Salmon River Central School District Board of Education would like to thank the special community committee for all of their hard work and dedication throughout the process.   

The Board of Education is very grateful to the Capital Project Committee, which met four times to review the scope of the work and provide feedback to the Buildings and Grounds Committee. The committee also provided recommendations on how the district should communicate with the public about the scope of the project. Committee members included Jacque Laduc, Gisele Hance, Dr. Ben Kelly, Barb Kelly, and Rod Lauzon.

May 30, 2013 Meeting Minutes

June 6, 2013 Meeting Minutes

June 20, 2013 Meeting Minutes

July 18, 2013 Meeting Minutes

Community Commitee Responses 7/18/13

Capital Project Presentation 7/18/13

Capital Project
Committee Members
Jacque Laduc, Bombay
Gisele Hance, Fort Covington
Dr. Ben Kelly, Fort Covington
Barb Kelly,  Hogansburg/Akwesasne
Rod Lauzon, Westville

More Information
For more information contact the Superintendent at 518-358-6610.

Click here to view the 2008 21st Century Instructional, Health & Safety Capital Project Recap

Indian Times Article 1/17/08

Malone Telegram Article: 1/9/2008

2008 Capital Project Mailer
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Capital Project Brochure  
Capital Project Press Release  
 
 
   

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