Proposed Capital Project 2023
A capital project is an important undertaking for any school district, and it is important that the project reflect not only the needs of the district, but the values and priorities of the entire Cincinnatus community. Investing in your school district is not a task that should be taken lightly, and we want you to cast your vote with confidence in April. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we have encountered throughout this process.
Q: Why now?
A: Many may ask why put forth a Capital Project Vote during these continued uncertain and changing times. We recognize the community’s potential concerns during a global pandemic. Education may change but it will not go away. We must continue to plan for the future of education for our students. With the completion of our Building Condition Survey, we have the commitment to preserve the community’s investment in our facilities while providing safe, secure facilities that are well maintained, up-to-date, and welcoming for our students, staff, and all community residents.
Secondly, our district has debt service ending in 2023 providing us with the financial opportunity to complete a capital project with no increase in the tax levy.
Finally, planning for a project takes many years. Once a project is voted on, the design process will not be completed until fall 2021. After State Education Department review and bidding, construction will begin in June 2022.
Q: What is a Building Condition Survey (BCS)?
A: New York State Education Law and regulations require a building condition survey (BCS) for all occupied school buildings to be conducted at least every five years (beginning in 2000).
This comprehensive report is completed by our architect and engineers and assesses “the need for maintenance, repairs, rehabilitation, reconstruction, construction and other improvements related to the structural integrity and overall safety of public school buildings including but not limited to building systems related to electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, sanitation and health, fire and accident protection,” (https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/EDN/409-D).
The purpose of a BCS is to properly plan and prioritize capital improvement projects. New York State refers to the BCS when planning for building aid reimbursement to school districts.
Q: How was the capital project developed?
A: With the completion of our Building Condition Survey in the summer of 2020, approximately $12.8 million of capital improvements between the Main Building, Maintenance Garage, and Transportation Facility were identified. These recommendations came as no surprise to our administrative team and Eric Benedict, Director of Facilities. We have been maintaining an updated Long-Range Facilities Plan that had included much of this work. Working with our architect, engineers, and construction manager, we narrowed the scope to $3.5 million.
Q: If we are taking good care of our buildings, why do we need a capital project?
A: The same wear and tear you encounter in your own home also happens to our District’s buildings and grounds. With nearly 500 students moving through our classrooms, hallways, and buildings every day, the scope of work needed to provide a safe and secure learning environment can be overwhelming. These infrastructure needs are greater than the day-to-day maintenance our staff can provide and these are projects that the annual budget cannot support.
Q: Why is the vote in April and not being held on the same day as our budget vote in May?
A: We chose this date based on the steps that have to be taken to get the project approved and our district has debt service ending in 2023. The current capital spending strategy for most districts is to replace retiring capital debt with new debt. Schools borrow the money with a 15-year bond and then New York State provides aid to schools over a 15-year period for all capital debt. This has been a very successful process that has been utilized to fund building improvements with a minimal impact on local taxes.
Q: What is the total cost of the project, and what will that do to my taxes?
A: The Board has approved a not-to-exceed project cost of $3.5 million. Our current
New York State Building Aid ratio hovers around 91%. For every $100,000 we spend in approved capital improvements, New York State reimburses us $91,000.
Another financial strategy districts we are utilizing is our Capital Reserve account. Voters approved the creation of a capital fund, not to exceed $1 million. Throughout the budget process over two years, we were able to fund this reserve in an amount of $303,089. The expenditure of these monies must be voter-approved and must meet specific requirements to offset the local share in a capital project. In order for our district to utilize our capital reserve money and maintain a minimal local share on any capital improvement, our proposed capital project must be limited to $3.5 million pending voter approval.
With the above funding strategies, there is projected to be minimal tax impact.
Q: If the vote is approved in March, what is the expected timeline to project completion?
A: We anticipate design and submission to the State Education Department (SED) from May 2021-August 2021. The review time by SED fluctuates based on the number of other projects under review but we have forecasted out a review from September 2021-November 2021. Upon SED approval, the project will go to bid in December 2021 and construction taking place from February 2022-August 2022.
Q: Will there be a chance to discuss our concerns and ask additional questions about Project 2023/24 with district officials?
A: We encourage community members to reach out with any questions or concerns. Please e-mail any questions to Todd Freeman, Superintendent, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are anticipating holding some virtual “Coffee and Conversation” sessions in March/April. Please reach out to email@example.com if you are interested in attending.
In addition, a public meeting will be held on Thursday, April 8 prior to our regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting. Information on how to attend and ask questions for the public hearing will be available on our website prior to the hearing.