page top

red arrow bulletCapital Improvement Project

Capital Improvement Project: An Overview

Monticello Central School District is moving full speed ahead in its planning of a capital improvement project, which will be put forth for voter approval on Dec. 19, 2017.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the following locations:

District 1: Thompson - Robert J. Kaiser Middle School
District 2: Bethel - Duggan Community Center
District 3: Mamakating - Emma C. Chase Elementary School
District 4: Rock Hill - Rock Hill Fire Department
District 5: Forestburgh - Forestburgh Town Hall

Click here for information about voter eligibility

One vision one goal one monticello
How did we get here?

As part of New York state law, school districts must undergo a building condition survey (BCS) every five years to ensure the safety and integrity of a district’s buildings. This survey was performed in the 2014-15 school year.

“Upon completion, the board of education became deeply concerned about the accuracy of the BCS report that had been completed in the 2014-15 school year,” Superintendent Tammy Mangus said. “For example, the results of that survey had indicated that our roofs were in acceptable condition, but the roofs in several buildings had substantial leaking to the extent that we had to put areas of our buildings out of use.”

The board formed a facilities committee to address the validity of the results and that committee ultimately recommended that the board retain another architectural firm to repeat the survey and hired Clark Patterson Lee (CPL), an architectural firm based out of Rochester, New York, to carry this out. The new survey’s results indicated that all buildings in the district, particularly the high school, were in dire need of repairs and updates to keep the buildings functional and safe.

“With the extent of the repairs and renovations that the buildings need, it makes sense from a financial standpoint to ensure that when we do make these repairs and renovations, we do so in a way that will support 21st century learning,” Ms. Mangus said. “The high school hasn’t had any significant renovations since it was built in the 1960s, and if you consider the enormity of changes that we have seen since then – not just in education but in society itself, it’s apparent why it’s so imperative to ensure that we are approaching these opportunities with a future-focused mindset.”

How has the planning process worked up until now?

Once the board realized the extent of the large-scale overhaul the district needed, and discovered that the amount of funding it would take to make these repairs would be similar to the cost of a complete renovation, they decided to move forward with planning a 21st century revamp.

The facilities committee worked with CPL to review the re-survey and prioritize projects and decided that it was essential to bring the community into the process to envision what our schools could, and should, be like. The board held an open community forum in the fall of 2016 and formed the “Vision and Build Committee” to complement the work of the Facilities Committee.

“The Vision and Build Committee is comprised of our dreamers and visionaries, while our Facilities Committee is our nuts and bolts; our blueprint designers,” Ms. Mangus said. “Their job is to say, “we want our classrooms to be bright, while our Facilities Committee’s job is to determine how to best make the classrooms bright – the shape of the windows, the addition of skylights, the paint colors, etc.”
Comprised of board members, parents, staff, residents and community leaders, the Vision and Build Committee met numerous times to explore possibilities for the District’s future.

Following the work of these two committees, the board decided to hold community forums regarding the set up and structure of the elementary schools before proceeding with a full capital improvement plan.

These meetings, held on Sept. 13 and 27, were set up so the board could finalize Phase 2, which would include renovation to the district’s three elementary schools and a potential shift in grade level set-up.

On Sept. 27, the BOE gave direction to the architects to move forward in planning two phases of work.

Phase 1 would include significant high school renovations and critical repairs to the middle and elementary schools, construction of a new transportation center and parking configuration adjustments, and would also include the construction of tennis courts.

In Phase 2, the Cornelius Duggan Elementary School would be reopened and the grade level configuration across all schools would change. Emma C. Chase Elementary and the Duggan School would serve grades Pre-K through 6. The George L. Cooke Elementary School would serve grades Pre-K through 3, and the Kenneth L Rutherford Elementary School would serve grades 4 – 6. The secondary schools would shift to a junior/senior high school model, with grades 7--9 attending the current middle school and grades 10-12 in the renovated high school.

That brings us to this present moment -- the District’s administrators and Board of Education will present a finalized plan of action to the public in the very near future and the public will vote on this final plan on Dec. 19, 2017

So, how will this impact my taxes?

The district is considering numerous financial scenarios to minimize the impact to the taxpayers.

In July 2019, the District is set to pay off a bond that financed the construction of the middle school nearly 20 years ago. State aid calculations are partially based upon the amount of a district’s debt and being in debt is actually fiscally healthy for a district as it typically correlates to an increase in state aid.

School districts that find themselves in need of serious repair will often go ahead and replace one debt package with another and that is exactly what is being considered in terms of the Phase 1 bond of $50 million -- the first half of the two phase project which will be presented to voters for consideration on Dec. 19.

It is also important to note that Monticello has reserved $650,000 of voter-authorized fund balance for the construction of tennis courts. Although the fund balance for this project was approved by voters during the 2014-15 school year, the building of the courts had to be delayed when construction bids ballooned from the new building/business surge following the announcement of the casino award. New tennis courts would be a part of Phase 1, and the existing $650k reserve will be used for that purpose.

The phase two bond, expected to be secured in 2024, will likely be offset by the District’s capital reserve fund, which is currently $8 million.

Although final bonding decisions have not been made, the District will explore and zero in on the best bonding option for both phases that would have as minimal an impact to the tax payers as possible.

“Our goal is to come under the tax cap every year, and we believe that we will continue to do so,” Board of Education President Stacey Sharoff said. “We are well aware of the economic challenges facing many of our families. The board is working diligently to balance the wants and needs of the school community with our fiscal responsibility to our taxpayers, so we are being creative and thinking outside of the box to do as much as we can for as little as we can.”

How long will it take to see changes?

Capital improvement projects take time. The entire process leading up to groundbreaking, which includes architect design, construction management review, SED approval (currently 38-42 weeks), bidding and contract awards typically takes approximately 18 months. The District is approaching Phase 1 of the project with the hopes of groundbreaking taking place in 2019.

The District expects to begin the process of architect design, construction management review and SED approval for Phase 2 around 2022-2023, and bonding that phase around 2024-2025, after the District has received bids and reviewed contract costs.

Over the next several weeks, the District will work with its financial advisors to solidify financial estimates of the project, and will regularly update the public on actual costs and tax impact as that information becomes available.

The District encourages residents to email questions about the capital improvement project to communications@k12mcsd.net.

Questions will be answered within three to five business days and the answers will be posted to the district’s website. The website will also include news related to upcoming forums and meetings which the public is encouraged to attend. The District has also created a series of videos narrated by District leaders to explain components of the project in greater detail.

“This project has the potential to impact your community for generations to come,” Ms. Mangus said. “We welcome, and strongly encourage all of our residents to become involved in this process.”