Dear School Community Member:
I hope this update finds you in the very best of health and spirit as we deal with the realities of our unpredictable winter weather.
Building Project Update
In this update I would like to let you know why the Board of Education is recommending improvements to our school facilities. I will highlight the many needs within our facilities, related to the health, safety and welfare, of students, staff and the community members who use our schools throughout the year.
The Fallsburg Central School District has been home to great champions in sports, academics, business and life. Among Fallsburg’s thousands of graduates are people that have earned international fame in entertainment, in medicine, in public service and in education. Many continue to live in and make a difference in the Fallsburg community as businessmen and women, lawyers, educators and mechanics. Just take a look at our Hall of Fame recipients as proof of the quality of the graduates!
Both of the buildings in our district play an important role in the Fallsburg community throughout the year. For the past 60 years, we have welcomed the entire school community to use the swimming pool, the auditorium, our fields and indoor spaces.
The junior-senior high school was built in 1958 with additions in 1989 and 2001. Our elementary school was built in 1967 with an addition in 1989. Both buildings had a partial and/or complete roof replacement done in 2006. In 2014, The District undertook a building project that effectively created an energy envelope around our elementary school to save on heating costs while ensuring comfortable temperatures throughout the winter months.
We replaced windows and flooring, renovated bathrooms, upgraded the fire alarm system at the junior-senior high school, installed emergency generators at both buildings, replaced the tennis court, upgraded our locker rooms at the junior-senior high school and we began to repair and renovate the swimming pool (more on that later).
Proposed Building Project
In this new building project we are proposing to address some issues that have long been placed on the back burner. At the junior-senior high school and the elementary school security upgrades will include long awaited entrance vestibules so parents and community members can wait inside during inclement weather.
There will be bathroom renovations that include the replacement of fixtures, plumbing and tiles. Exterior site improvements to the outdoor track and the practice fields will better ensure player safety, reduce maintenance costs, and eliminate some cancellations of events
The HVAC upgrades will continue our commitment to improve student comfort within our classrooms. Additionally we will improve thermal efficiency by replacing boilers at the elementary school and converting the remaining portion of the Junior-Senior High School from steam to water based heating. A hot water heating system is anticipated to be up to 10% more efficient than the existing steam system. This will create a savings of up to 25% in lower operating expenses in maintenance and reduced fuel costs. The new system will have better system control resulting in more comfortable temperatures in our classrooms, in addition to being more reliable.
At the junior-senior high school the gymnasium floor, bleachers, and windows will be replaced. We all understand the importance of physical education on the lives of our students. These improvements will provide our gym long overdue updates after decades of long, hard but enjoyable and successful use. The new wood floor will eliminate dead spots that impact our competitions, provide the proper and safe resiliency for our students during play, and reduce the escalating cost of maintenance due to the age and obsolescence of the existing floor.
The new bleachers will provide accessible seating for our parents and community members, with proper aisle ways for safe access and again, reduced maintenance. These bleachers will also highlight our school colors with a more durable molded plastic seating material. The windows on the two gymnasium court ends will be replaced to eliminate the infiltration of water, in addition to providing better glare control during athletic events and increased thermal efficiency.
The pool upgrade is the centerpiece of this capital project. As you may be aware, our school district has one of the only indoor swimming facilities in Sullivan County. Historically, this pool has been used to teach our children swimming and water safety as well as to provide exercise for senior citizens and community members. During a previous building project it was discovered that the pool was in need of much greater repair than was previously anticipated. As a result the pool could not be completed because the cost of repairs and replacements were so much greater than what was budgeted for at that time.
This pool renovation will include the replacement of a new tiled deck, a new pool liner and plumbing upgrades which will keep the pool functioning highly for decades to come. The pool area will be ADA compliant with lifts connected to the recently renovated pool locker rooms as well as a lift to take disabled swimmers in and out of the pool.
Additionally, the pool has been used to train our Sullivan County fire department dive teams as well as to train and certify the lifeguards that our county depends on. Hundreds of Fallsburg and other high school students have found summer lifeguarding jobs over the years. Unfortunately our pool facility has been closed for more than two years, and these services are very much missed.
The proposed project will cost $15.9 million dollars. We are anticipating that we will receive New York State building aid at a minimum of 73.9%. This means that we would get about 74 cents back on each dollar spent on the building project.
In addition to the $15.9 million dollar project, the state has awarded the district 1.7 million dollars of conditional use money from the Smart Bonds Act. The Board has recommended this money be used for security upgrades at our two school buildings. Therefore, the total cost of the work completed will be $17.7 million dollars, however, the cost to the district will only be $15.9 million.
Cost to Taxpayers
One of the most frequent questions we get asked is what will the cost of this project be for the average taxpayer?
• If you are a senior citizen who gets a STAR exemption, and the full value of your home is less than $80,000, there will be no additional cost to you.
• If you are a senior citizen with a STAR exemption and the full value of your home is $100,000, the increase will be $23.00 a year or $1.92 month.
• If you are a senior with STAR and the full value of your home is $160,000, the increase will be $60.00 a year or $5.00 a month.
• If you have a STAR exemption only and the full value of your home is $100,000, the increase will be $43.00 per year or $3.58 a month.
• If you have no STAR exemption and the full value of your property is $100,000, the increase will be $62.00 per year or $5.17 a month.
As you can see the 74% state aid that we are getting back makes a big difference in the bottom line relative to the cost to taxpayers. Because we are receiving such high aid back from the State, the $15.9 million dollar project will ultimately cost taxpayers about $8.5 million dollars. The $8.5 million dollar number represents the total cost to taxpayers after interest. The cost of the project, after the aid is applied is about $5.6 million dollars. Fifteen years of interest brings the $5.6 million dollar cost to a total of $8.5 million dollars.
To use these facilities for another 60 plus good years, we need to maintain them in a healthy and safe condition. Timely repairs and replacements will ensure the enjoyable use of the facilities and protect the health, safety and welfare of the community that uses them.
We want you to be as fully informed as possible. Ultimately, the will of the people will determine how this project moves forward and how we address the facility issues identified here. If you have any questions about the project that the District is proposing or you would like additional details, please don’t hesitate to call me at 845-434-5884 extension 1215 or email me at email@example.com.
On behalf of the Fallsburg Central School District Board of Education, I thank you for taking the time to read this information. We look forward to hearing from you as we approach the March 14, 2017 vote.
Ivan J. Katz, Ed.D