Voters in the Valley Central School District will have their say on the district’s proposed $22.7 million bond referendum to upgrade district schools in a public vote on Tuesday, Aug. 20. In June, the Board of Education agreed on the contours of a referendum package that would renovate the High School-Middle School complex parking lot, among other improvements to local schools. During last week’s session, the board voted 7-0 to approve a resolution to send the referendum to the voters next month.
According to a tentative post-referendum schedule that was provided to the board at its June 20 meeting by the CSArch architectural firm, if the public approves the bond in August, the project design, state approval and bidding process would all potentially be completed by the end of next year, with the construction beginning at a date to be determined.
The work contained in the referendum is intended to complement the State Department of Transportation’s upcoming installation of traffic lights on Route 17K outside the school parking lot complex. “It’s gratifying and we’re really happy,” Valley Central Superintendent John Xanthis said after the board passed the resolution. “I just got a letter today from the state and they want to meet for a pre-construction meeting. They actually gave us the timeline that they’re going to start doing some work in the fall of 2020 and the project would probably start in the spring of 2021, if everything goes according to plan for them.”
The proposed scope of work contained in the $22.7 million proposal includes the rehaul of the high school parking lot site, air conditioning in the middle school cafeteria, pool dehumidification at the high school/middle school facility, a new concession stand near the high school football field that also includes a greenhouse and a production lab for students and renovations to the Montgomery Elementary School parking lot.
The district set a pre-Labor Day vote on Aug. 20 with the hope of attracting residents to the polls as summer winds down. “All of our sports kids and high school kids come back the last two weeks because practice starts that Monday,” Xanthis said. “So we just thought that for a large part of the community the summer is over and they’re back to school. Teachers are back by then. People certainly take vacations, but we thought that would give us the best chance to get people that are home.”
The district plans to sell the referendum proposal to the public at an information session at a date to be determined this summer. “We’ll certainly have a night where we’ll present it to the public so they can get a better sense of what we’re asking them to spend their dollars on,” Xanthis said.
During a reorganization meeting at the beginning of the board’s July 1 meeting, the council chose Board President Sarah Messing to head up the board for the coming school year. In the spring, Messing was named acting president when Trustee Melvin Wesenberg stepped down from the top spot, and the board voted to make Messing the full-fledged president last Monday, edging out challenger Trustee Sonia Lewis. Trustee Joe Bond was selected as the board’s vice president over Trustee Sheila Schwartz. Lewis and Schwartz voted for each other in their respective races, with the rest of the board supporting the eventual victors. Monday’s session marked the first meeting for new board members Arthur Fitzgerald and Diana Revoir, who were elected to three-year terms on the council in May.