$49 million capital project up for referendum in March

The Greater Amsterdam School District Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution authorizing a special referendum to be held on Thursday, March 17, asking voters to decide on a $48.96 million capital project.

The project began with findings from the state-mandated building condition survey that was completed by BCA Architects and Engineers. Using those findings, the district’s steering committee then consulted with building leaders to develop a prioritized list of what areas to address and to complete an estimate.

The capital project would address health, safety, and security concerns, as well as making upgrades that would increase energy efficiency and decrease maintenance costs in the six schools in active use by the district.

All of the schools would see repairs performed on interior and exterior damage, and the interior and exterior fluorescent lighting would be replaced with LED lighting. Security systems would also be replaced at each school.

Wilbur H. Lynch Literacy Academy would receive the most expensive repairs, at a cost of $14.36 million. The repairs would be performed on the athletic fields and a non-functional handicapped lift. The project would also address the concession and restroom facilities at the athletic fields, which are not compliant with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Amsterdam High School and William B. Tecler Arts in Education Magnet School would receive $7.17 million and $7.32 million, respectively. The high school would see repairs to the damaged perimeter retaining wall and building foundation, and the original electrical system from 1976 would be replaced. At Tecler, a damaged swing set would be replaced and roofing defects repaired. Damaged carpeting and tiling would also be replaced.

Another improvement that would take place at Tecler would be a complete reconfiguration of the building. Perillo noted that when Tecler was constructed in the 1970s, it was designed using an open school concept, which featured demountable partitions. Those would be replaced with permanent interior walls.

R.J. McNulty Academy of International Studies and Literacy Magnet School would receive $1.47 million, Marie Curie Institue of Engineering and Communications would receive $1.25 million, and William H. Barkley MicroSociety Magnet School would receive $1.89 million. Each school would have their original electrical systems replaced and any damaged floors, walls, doors or windows repaired or replaced.

Repairs would also be performed at the Lynch Literacy Academy Annex at a cost of $571,250, and an additional $14.9 million would be set aside for legal, technical, administrative, and contingency costs in case any areas require attention above what had been previously estimated.

Board member Peter Pritchard raised concerns over the absence of Clara S. Bacon Elementary School from the list of schools to receive repairs. Perillo said that Bacon had been included in the building survey and that the cost of repairs to the school had been estimated at approximately $10 million. As the district doesn’t have students actively attending classes there at this time, he said that the repairs would be cost prohibitive and that at some point the board would have to discuss what future plans for Bacon will be.

School Business Manager Kim Brumley said that because the school was not actively being used, repairs for Bacon would be ineligible for state aid and could only be funded locally.

State building aid would account for 93 percent of the project’s cost, with the remainder coming from local and reserve funds.

Two other propositions will appear on the referendum. The first would authorize the school district to purchase a 66-passenger school bus for no more than $110,110 and a 30-passenger school bus for no more than $104,560.

The second proposition would enable the district to sell the former district office building at 11 Liberty Street for no less than $55,000.

The referendum will take place on March 17 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. A public hearing will be held on March 2 at 6 p.m. in the media center at the high school.

Ashley Onyon

Ashley Onyon is a graduate of the journalism program at SUNY Albany. She has contributed articles to The Mohawk Valley Independent and the annual journal Upstream.