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I N V E S T I N G   I N   E Q U I T Y

$70 Million Capital Project Referendum

Capital Project Referendum Results
The Schenectady City School District $70 million
Capital Project Referendum
was approved by voters with a supermajority of 73.6%     
826 (yes)     296 (no) 

Thank you for your support!  


Next: Architects continue work on designs

March 2015:  Bid Period for Renovations at Mont Pleasant & Oneida

By April 2015:  New Attendance Zones will be determined

June 2015:  Project Work will begin on School Buildings

September 2016:  Central Park, Mont Pleasant & Oneida open as Grade 6-8 Middle Schools.  Howe opens as Pre-K-5 Elementary School. 


Q:  How can the district complete a $70 million building project with no tax increase while we have a $10 million budget gap? 

Q:  Is it true that the work that was recently done at Central Park was a waste of money and that all of that work is being "undone."  Answer


Community Meetings
Regarding the Capital Project Referendum

Everyone is Welcome!

February 25 
7 p.m.  Central/Eastern/12309 Community Meeting
Ellis Hospital Auditorium (McClellan Street Campus)
Enter through main entrance

March 6
6:30 p.m.  Van Corlaer Elementary School, 2300 Guilderland Avenue

March 10
6:30 p.m.  Yates School, 725 Salina Street

March 13
7 p.m. Faith Deliverance Tabernacle Church, 1028 Ostrander Place

March 18
6 p.m.  Central Park School, 421 Elm Street

School Tours &

Information Meeting Presentation

Public Meeting Handout



Phase I
March 25, 2014

Polls are Open
Noon - 9 pm

Polling Locations

Application for Absentee Ballot
Times Union
Feb. 08 2014
Schenectady voters to weigh $70 school project

Time Warner News
Multi-million dollar proposal to renovate Schenectady's schools

Schenectady schools eye $70 million project

Albany Business Review
Schenectady City School District eyes $70 million building project

$70 million building project
will not increase taxes

Referendum to go before voters March 25

The Schenectady City School District Board of Education approved a resolution, on February 5, that kicks-off the long range planning renewal program and multi-phase facilities master plan.  Schenectady residents will head to the polls on March 25, 2014 to vote on Phase I of the plan, a Capital Project for $70 million, which will have little, if any, impact on the tax rate.

The master plan includes work to all of the district’s schools and will ensure regular ongoing maintenance, moderate reconstruction and renovation of buildings.  It addresses overcrowding in some schools, forecasted enrollment shifts across the city, equity issues and deteriorating conditions at some of the district’s oldest buildings.  

According to Superintendent Larry Spring, the long-range facilities plan will extend the life span of many of the district schools.  “Our buildings have significant needs,” he said.  “Some of them are more than 100 years old.”   He noted that much of the work will be addressing building condition items like heating and ventilation repairs, roof leaks, boilers and inefficient systems.  “This is work that must be done,” Spring added.  “It’s not fancy and may not even be noticeable, but, it must be done.” 

If the March 25 referendum is approved, work won’t begin until  the summer of 2015.  Changes would be implemented the following year.  “There will not be any changes to our schools, grade configurations or attendance zones before September 2016,” said Spring. 

Phase I - $70 Million      Phase I   Presentation of the Capital Project

The $70 million project will include renovations to Oneida, Mont Pleasant and Central Park so that they can open as grade 6-8 middle schools in September 2016.  Phase I will provide the work needed to create small learning communities within the middle schools and support the structure that is planned within the new grade level configuration.

Today, the district has a hybrid model with a variety of school grade configurations.  Over the last several years, grade levels were added and removed at many of the schools in response to budgetary or enrollment issues.  The current structure was not by design or part of any comprehensive long range plan for the district.  The multi-phase plan adopted by the board of education is designed to change that by providing a concise roadmap for the next several years. 

The changes in 2016 are important to ensure equity, build capacity, address enrollment issues, provide consistent feeder patterns and improve the condition of the school buildings.  

Spring has spoken about the inequities that exist at the middle school level starting with where students attend seventh and eighth grade.  He said some sixth graders would like to stay in the school that they have attended for years, but can't because there isn't enough space. Yet, other sixth graders in the district do have the opportunity to remain in the same school through eighth grade.  

Because the seventh and eighth grade enrollment is much smaller at the K/1-8 schools, enriched programming that belongs in those grades often cannot be offered.  Advanced programs are however offered at Mont Pleasant Middle School, where there are enough students and demand, to fill classes like algebra, biology, enriched English, advanced math and studio in art.   “Some of these are courses that middle school students need in order to follow an advanced track in high school,” said Spring.  The new design will afford every family the same opportunities regardless of where they live or attend school.

The plan also gives parents the opportunity to know where their children will go to school for elementary, middle and high school.  "Our current model makes it very difficut for our families to know where their children will attend school," said Spring.  "If I live here, my child transitions in these grades, but, if I live over here, he only transitions one time - from eighth to ninth." 

As the board of education explored various options and grade level configurations, including the K-8 model, it was determined that the grade configurations within a school building don't matter much.  “Speaking from an educational standpoint, there is no real advantage to the way you arrange a school,” said Spring.  “Leadership and adults and how they do their work matters much more than grade structure.” 

The structure that will be in place in 2016 will address many of these issues and according to Spring will give the district staff opportunities to provide equitable resources to students. 

The design includes upgrading and redesigning Central Park, Mont Pleasant and Oneida in order to properly implement a unique middle school program.  It calls for the creation of smaller learning communities within each school, making the transition from each grade smoother for students during these most difficult years. 

An advisory committee continues to work with middle school leadership to address the master plan and details of what the middle level program should look like.

The plan also calls for work to be done at Howe, to build additional classrooms to add capacity, so that the school can open as a Pre-K-5 elementary school and welcome more students. 

Priority repairs and renovations will also be completed at Van Corlaer Paige and Steinmetz in Phase I. 


Phase I
March 2014-December 2017
Budget:  $70 Million
Mont Pleasant $25  Million
Oneida $22.4 Million
Howe $  9  Million
Van Corlaer $7.1 Million
Central Park $3.6 Million
Paige $1.4 Million
Steinmetz $1.4 Million

Concept drawings a list of the work slated for each of the buildings is outlined in the Phase I Facilities Program Presentation.

The March 25 referendum is a vote on the Capital Project work only.  The vote does not address grade level configurations.  The districtwide plan regarding configurations has already been adopted by the board of education and will be implemented.

Let's talk about Central Park

While two phases of work were completed in 2009-2010 at Central Park, it is important to point out that the majority of the work would have been necessary regardless of the grade level configurations at the school.

A recent media report indicated that with the plan to make Central Park a Pre-K - grade 5 school, work that was done in the previous project would be "undone."   While bathrooms were renovated to accomodate kindergarteners who were new to the school at the time, most of the other renovations and repairs were completed to address specific safety and security issues as well as heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

The following is among the work that was done and will remain in place:

  • Elevator Addition

  • Roof Replacement

  • Masonry Repair

  • Renovate Auditorium

  • Interior Accessibility Modifications

  • Replace Gym Ventilation Units

  • Replace Boilers and Renovate Boiler Room

  • Site Improvements

  • Parking Area Reconstruction

  • Bus Loop

Spring noted that the kindergarten bathrooms might be slightly modified - for example, the toilets raised a few inches.  Additionally, the playground won't be left unused.  "We can relocate it to an elementary school," said Spring. 

Financing Phase I

The  Phase I Capital Project work will not have an impact on the tax rate.  The New York State Education Department provides funding to school districts for renovation projects and facility needs.  Schenectady receives at least 95% state building aid, which means the district receives $66.5 million toward this project.

The local share would be $3.5 million.  However, that cost is offset by $3.5 million in EXCEL (Expanding Our Children's Education and Leadership) funds.

The impact on the local tax rate of a $100,000 home will be between
$0.00 and $1.14 annually.

District officials have been working with financial advisors to ensure that the Schenectady taxpayers will not be impacted.  "We are being conservative with the numbers to ensure this," said Spring.  "In the worst case scenario, our taxpayers would pay $1.14 more each year. But, our intent is that there will be zero impact."

                                     $70.0 Million Total Project Cost
                                    -$66.5 Million Building Aid (95%)
                                     $  3.5 Million Balance (Local Share)
                                    -$  3.5 Million EXCEL Aid
                                     $  0.0  Local Share

"We are being very careful in our planning so that all of the work that we will do qualifies and is aid-able," said Spring. 


The Money from New York State

You are probably thinking, "How can our school district do $70 million worth of work and it not cost taxpayers a penny?"  Does it sound to good to be true?  The truth is that since you do pay sales taxes and income taxes as a resident of the state, you have already contributed to the fund that supports these projects.  Money is reserved for schools to do projects and is used as an incentive for districts to invest in their infrastructure.  You are paying the taxes whether or not our referendum is approved. Those funds are set aside for school districts in New York State to take care of their school buildings.  Our buildings have critical needs that are just as important as any other school district.  Schenectady is entitled to use the state building aid money to meet those needs.

Building aid is very different than education aid.  While Schenectady is significantly shortchanged in the amount of education aid we receive, we are treated fairly and even incentized with building aid.  "This is an opportunity for Schenectady to get our fair share of this aid," said Spring.  "Our children and our community deserve to have this money come to our schools."

If you have any questions about the funding, please do not hesitate to call.  We are happy to walk you through and explain.  Call Superintendent Larry Spring at 370-8100 X40107 or Lori McKenna at 881-3405.

The Timeline

February 05, 2014
Board of Education approves resolution for $70 Million Capital Project Referendum to take place March 25, 2014

March 25, 2014
Schenectady Residents vote on $70 Million Capital Project Phase I

March 2015
Bid Period for Renovations at Mont Pleasant and Oneida.

June 2015
New Attendance Zones will be determined.  There will not be any changes to attendance zones prior to September 2016.

June 30, 2015
Project Work on school buildings begins.

September 2016
Central Park, Mont Pleasant and Oneida Open as Grades 6-8 Middle Schools.
Howe Opens as Prek-5 Elementary School.

Our Schools in 2016

There will not be any changes to attendance zones or grade configurations until 2016.  All of the details have not been determined.  A team of stakeholders, demographers, experts and educators will be working on district attendance zones while considering the forcasted population shifts.  Spring said, "how attendance lines are drawn should also make sense."

According to the superintendent, the process is complex and make take up to 18 months to design.  Regardless, there will be no changes to grade configurations or attendance zones prior to September 2016.

Schools Grades
Fulton TBD
Howe PreK-5
Hamilton PreK-5
Keane PreK-5
King PreK-5
Lincoln PreK-5
Paige PreK-5
Pleasant Vly PreK-5
Van Corlaer PreK-5
Woodlawn PreK-5
Yates PreK-5
Zoller PreK-5
Central Park 6-8
Mont Pleasant 6-8
Oneida 6-8
Schenectady HS 9-12
        SCLA 9-12

Long Range Plan

As the Schenectady City School District embarks on Phase I of the Capital Project, it also marks the beginning of an ongoing cycle of work and a maintenance program that will ensure the safety, security and environmental health of each of our school buildings.  The planning renewal program and multi-phase facilities master plan includes at least four phases of work that will extend to about 2030.  By the end of phase four, every school in our district will have had a series of work completed.

"With the first phase of work, we will begin to systematize our district's signficant maintenance needs," said Spring.  "After we get through the four phases of work, we will continue to do relatively frequent capital projects that will be smaller in nature and primarily maintenance."

Why not do it all at once?  There is a limit on how much work can be done.  A district has a maximum cost allowance."  Therefore, the district cannot complete a all of the work that needs to be done at once.  Work is scheduled in phases so that each would begin when the maximum cost allowance is reset.

Each phase will be presented to the residents of Schenectady for approval.

Phase II of the master plan is slated for February 2017 and would include Keane, Yates, Pleasant Valley, Hamilton, Steinmetz and other priority work.

The Work

The law requires that all projects are sent to bid.  This allows the district to select the lowest bid for work that will meet our detailed specificiations.  If the referendum passes, the bid period will begin in March 2015.  Work on the buildings would then begin in June 2015.  Much work will be done over the summer while buildings are not occupied.  When students return to school in September 2015, work will be scheduled so that it is not a distraction and will not interfere with learning.  Oneida will still be unoccupied so work can be done at that site year round. 

What if the March 25 Referendum is not approved?

The Board of Education accepted a long range plan.  "This is what we are working toward," said Spring.  "This is the first step toward that goal."   He points out that much of the work is building condition survey (BCS) items that improves the conditions of the builiding.  "It is work that somehow needs to get done," said Spring.


If you have any questions about the Capital Project, funding or other, please do not hesitate to call.  You can reach Superintendent Larry Spring at 370-8100 X40107.

Please attend our community meetings.  Other meeting and events will be posted!


Community Meetings
Regarding the Capital Project Referendum

Everyone is Welcome!

February 25
7 p.m.  Central/Eastern/12309 Community Meeting
Ellis Hospital Auditorium (McClellan Street Campus)
Enter through main entrance

March 6
6:30 p.m.  Van Corlaer Elementary School, 2300 Guilderland Avenue

March 10
6:30 p.m.  Yates School, 725 Salina Street

March 13
7 p.m. Faith Deliverance Tabernacle Church, 1028 Ostrander Place

March 18
6 p.m.  Central Park School, 421 Elm Street

School Tours and Walk-throughs
March 15
Van Corlaer Elementary School
Tour Times:  9:15 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Mont Pleasant Middle School
Tour Times:  11:30 a.m.  & 12:15 p.m.

March 22
Howe School
Tour Times:  9:30 a.m.  & 10:15 a.m.

Central Park
Tour Times:  11:30 a.m. & 12:15 p.m.

Oneida Middle School
1:30 p.m. & 2:15 p.m.

Please R.S.V.P. if you are planning on taking any of the guided tours and walk-throughs by calling 370-8100 X40137 or email

  Long Range Planning Documents and Presentations