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
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
Phase I - $70 Million
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
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
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.
Budget: $70 Million
||$ 9 Million
Concept drawings a list of the work slated
for each of the buildings is outlined in the
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:
Interior Accessibility Modifications
Replace Gym Ventilation Units
Replace Boilers and Renovate Boiler
Parking Area Reconstruction
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,"
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
The impact on
the local tax rate of a $100,000 home will be between
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,"
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.
February 05, 2014
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
Bid Period for
Renovations at Mont Pleasant and Oneida.
Zones will be determined. There will not be any changes to
attendance zones prior to September 2016.
June 30, 2015
Work on school buildings begins.
Park, Mont Pleasant and Oneida Open as Grades 6-8 Middle
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
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.
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
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 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,"
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!
Regarding the Capital Project Referendum
Everyone is Welcome!
Central/Eastern/12309 Community Meeting
Hospital Auditorium (McClellan Street Campus)
Enter through main entrance
p.m. Van Corlaer Elementary School, 2300 Guilderland
6:30 p.m. Yates School, 725
7 p.m. Faith
Deliverance Tabernacle Church, 1028 Ostrander Place
6 p.m. Central Park School, 421 Elm
School Tours and Walk-throughs
Van Corlaer Elementary School
Times: 9:15 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Tour Times: 11:30 a.m. &
Tour Times: 9:30 a.m.
& 10:15 a.m.
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
Long Range Planning Documents and Presentations