Special Meeting of the BOE, 2/21, 7pm
Please be advised there is a Special Meeting of the Board of Education on February 21 at 7pm in the District Office.
1. WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROCESS AND STEPS TAKEN IN DEVELOPING THE PROPOSED 2019 CAPITAL PROJECT PLAN BOND REFERENDUM?
The proposed capital project bond referendum was developed over the past months by the Board of Education and District administration. Their deliberations were guided by input from the District’s architectural consultants, Tetra Tech Architects & Engineers; and the District-wide Administration Committee, Building Committee and Community Advisory Committee, comprised of community members, administrators, and members of the Board of Education, parents and teachers. The District also will incorporate feedback provided at numerous Board meetings and public forums by the community at large.
2. WHAT LED TO THE DECISION TO SCHEDULE A BOND REFERENDUM NOW?
The District has significant debt service being retired in 2019. This creates an opportunity for the District to address major teaching, safety, security and infrastructure needs—as well as the educational and spatial needs at Mahopac Schools—with a new bond referendum that would be tax neutral. Approval of the project scope that comprises the bond referendum being voted on by the Mahopac community on May 21, 2019, will result in projected new annual debt service being at or less than the current annual debt service being retired by the District.
3. BASED ON THE PROPOSED PROJECT SCOPE, HOW WILL EACH SCHOOL IN THE DISTRICT BENEFIT?
If approved, the capital project bond referendum provides for investment in vital District-wide educational, safety, security and infrastructure improvements. The bond supports an educational facility plan that serves as a clear reflection of our community’s commitment to high-quality schools, including security and safety initiatives, infrastructure needs, such as:
4. HOW ARE SUSTAINABILITY CONSIDERATIONS BEING ADDRESSED IN THE PROPOSED PROJECT SCOPE?
The District’s architecture consultants, Tetra Tech, intend to employ many eco-friendly principles when developing construction plans, both in materials selection and interconnected component design.
5. WILL ANY OF THE PROJECTS PROPOSED IN THE PROJECT SCOPE INTERFERE WITH CLASSES AT ANY OF OUR SCHOOLS?
No class time will be interrupted or cancelled due to construction or other work being performed. Construction crews and other contractors’ work shifts for interior projects will be concentrated during summer months and other times when school is not in session. If any interior work is to be done during the school year, work shifts will be scheduled during weekends, evenings and other times when interior building spaces are unoccupied. This work would be relatively minor in nature.
6. WHAT SAFETY MEASURES WILL BE TAKEN DURING EXTERIOR CONSTRUCTION WHILE SCHOOL IS IN SESSION TO SAFEGUARD CHILDREN, BUILDING PERSONNEL AND SCHOOL VISITORS?
State Education Department (SED) guidelines must be followed when performing work at any school facility. All capital construction projects require a building permit issued by the SED. The importance of a building permit is to ensure that the work will be done properly to preserve the health and safety of a facility’s occupants or users. For example, SED requires permanent separation between all work areas and students. In addition, the District has retained the services of a construction manager who will be on site during all phases of construction.
7. HOW WILL THE DISTRICT ADDRESS STUDENTS’ SAFETY AND SECURITY DURING CONSTRUCTION?
All construction work at Mahopac Schools is subject to strict New York State Education Department (SED) guidelines regarding construction at any school facility. No construction at Mahopac Schools can start without a building permit issued by the SED, which stipulates the manner in which work must be done to ensure the health and safety of a facility’s occupants and users. SED also requires permanent separation between all work areas and students. The plan for Mahopac Schools is to have all new construction done during the summer months, with weekend and evening work shifts scheduled if necessary to ensure completion before students return to the building. As part of the plan for construction, the District will also incorporate best practices regarding noise and air quality monitoring. In addition, the District has retained the services of a construction manager that will manage on site during all phases of construction.
8. WHAT IS THE DISTRICT’S STATE AID RATE FOR ELIGIBLE CAPITAL PROJECTS? BASED ON THE PROPOSED PROJECT SCOPE, ARE ALL PROJECTS ELIGIBLE FOR STATE AID?
The District’s state aid rate for eligible capital projects is currently 58.1% percent. The District is projecting that 90-95 percent of all projects proposed in the project scope will be eligible for state aid.
9. THE BOARD ESTABLISHED TAX NEUTRALITY AS ONE OF THE MAJOR PRIORITIES IN DEVELOPING THE PROPOSED 2019 BOND REFERENDUM. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
The overarching fiscal assumption made in planning for this bond referendum has been the achievement of tax neutrality. The Board of Education directive was to keep projected new District annual debt no higher than the amount being retired by the District.
10. CAN THE DISTRICT JUST PAY FOR THE WORK ON THIS PROJECT THROUGH ITS REGULAR BUDGET?
The Board of Education and Administration believes it would benefit the taxpayers to do the work through a capital project rather than the annual budget process, for several reasons. First, New York State limits the increase in the tax levy from one year’s budget to the next to 2% with some adjustments, or the consumer price index, whichever is less. Under that formula, it would be impossible to do even a portion of the work without either exceeding the tax cap (requiring 60% approval of the voters in the district) or slashing educational programs and services.
Second, if the District does the work through a capital project, it will be reimbursed by New York State at a rate of 58.1% on the state “aidable” items. Most of the work we are planning is “aidable.” However, if the work was paid for from the regular budget, the District would not be reimbursed. Ultimately, to maintain our facilities, this project will save taxpayers money in the long run.
11. I HEAR THAT SOME OF THE WORK WILL BE MAINTENANCE-TYPE WORK. HASN’T THE DISTRICT BEEN MAINTAINING THE BUILDINGS ALL ALONG?
The district does ongoing, routine maintenance work every year. The proposed work is not “routine maintenance” but, instead, is a collection of medium to large-sized projects that fall outside the definition of routine maintenance. These are a specialized job that requires State Education Department approval (because it is being done on a public school building) and could not have been done as part of its routine maintenance of the building.
12. WHAT IS THE VOTING INFORMATION?
Date of Bond Referendum*: Thursday, May 21, 2019
Times of voting: 6:00 am to 9:00 pm
Location of voting: Mahopac High School Gymnasium
Mahopac Central School District residents must be registered by the district and/or Putnam County in order to vote in school matters. After you have registered, you must vote at least once within a four-year period in order to retain your registration. If you continue to vote in school elections, it is not necessary to register each time.
Section 352 of the Election Law (1975) now permits voting in school elections for eligible residents who are duly registered to vote in general elections. Provisions have been established to allow for absentee voting in school elections.
Qualified residents may register at the District Office with the District Clerk during business hours from 9 to 3:00 pm, on any school business day up to May 15, 2019. There will be an extended night registration on May 15, 2019 until 7:00 pm in the District Office located at 179 East Lake Blvd.
New residents or those not registered are reminded that registration of voters is required in order to vote in the May 21, 2019 School Board Elections and Budget Vote. If you have already registered with Putnam County Board of Elections you do not need to register.
Applications for absentee ballots are available on the District’s website and at the District Office. All completed ballots are due in the office of the District Clerk by 5:00 pm on May 21, 2019. For more information, contact Melody LaRocca, District Clerk, LaroccaM@mahopac.k12.ny.us or 845-628-3415 x10550.
* This is also the voting day and time for the 2019-20 school budget and Board of Education candidates. Please note the public budget hearing is Tuesday, May 7, 7pm at the Mahopac Falls Auditorium.
HAVE ANOTHER QUESTION OR NEED ADDITIONAL INFORMATION? CONTACT LAURA LEE HOLMBO, firstname.lastname@example.org or 845-628-3415 x10560