A recent inspection of the New Paltz Central School District Middle School has resulted in a proposed $52.9 million budget plan to to renovate facilities which have been deemed hazardous.
The inspection revealed the presence of decrepit infrastructures creating hazardous conditions for the school’s occupants. The majority of these findings are of concern to the health and safety of students and faculty. These conditions have shown to affect the air quality in the building, causing certain classrooms to be extremely hot due to outdated radiators and improper ventilation.
Although replacing leaky rooftops, rotting walls and other insufficiencies is widely agreed upon by the community to be imperative, the toll the budget may take on taxpayers has generated concern among some.
According to an article in the Times-Herald Record, New Paltz Town Board member Kevin Barry argued that the budget could cause a nine percent tax spike in the second and fourth year of its passing. A predicted total of 30 percent tax increase over the next five years of the passing has lead to some skepticism among voters and much debate over the implications a budget of this size may prove to be.
“When this first came up in 2009 I was on the school board, so I helped craft the first version of this project essentially,” New Paltz Town Councilman Daniel Torres said. “I understand the concerns of the proposal but I do fear kicking the can down the road.”
Torres is referring to the fear that conditions in the middle school might worsen in the future and eventually require emergency work being done. According to Torres, this emergency work would be completely burdened by taxpayers, whereas as a formal budget like the one proposed would receive approximately 50 percent state-aid.
Previous lower budget options were considered before the $52.9 million budget was proposed. A budget of $24.3 million was prospectively created to simply tackle the infrastructure and critical facility conditions. However, according to New Paltz Board of Education member Dominick Profaci in a Times-Herald Record article, the lower budget would have caused an extra six percent tax increase, ending up costing taxpayers more than the $52.9 million budget would in the first place.
The New Paltz Central School District released their “2014 Educational Facilities Master Plan” on Feb. 26, 2014, outlining what needed to be renovated in middle school and other buildings in association with the district. According to the plan, the middle school has a long list of “key items” needed to be renovated under a list labeled “Priority 1.” These items are the essential aspects of the school that need to be updated before any other renovations are considered. Secondary renovations are found under the list “Priority 2.”
Priority 1 lists renovations include replacement of damaged doors, windows and walls to the repair of vital ventilation units and sewer/pipeline deterioration. Each of these items were originally installed in the years 1930, 1956, 1966 and 1969, respectively.
“It does seem clear the community wants to keep the middle school in the town,” Torres said. “These renovations are needed.”
On Oct. 28, school district residents voted 1,380 to 1,230 against the $52.9 million renovation proposition.