This letter is a personal statement. It has not been reviewed by, and does not constitute a statement from, the Board of Education.
I am writing this letter a few hours prior to the school board's vote to place the proposed renovation to the New Paltz Middle School on the ballot in February.
I have heard from dozens, if not hundreds, of people on this project and the two most FAQs are: a) Why do we need to take on a large project at the New Paltz Middle School? And b) Can't we wait until the economy bounces back?
We need to act because there are $10 million in emergency repairs needed to keep the school running for another six to eight years. So the cost of "nothing" is $10M vs. $29M for the proposal (after state aid). AND after spending $10 million now, we would come back to the community with the same problems in five to eight years (only they would cost a lot more to address at that time).
I, and other members of the Board of Ed, have been studying this situation for years; acting now is the most fiscally responsible course of action to preserve our educational program.
The proposal is structured in a way that maximizes the benefits of acting in a downturn, while minimizing the effect on taxpayers. The financing is set up so that bids get locked in now at economic downturn rates, but tax impact is not felt until the 2012-13 school year, when the economy has bounced back.
Staff at the New Paltz Middle School has reported several times that education is delivered despite the facility. The widely practiced "House" concept to middle school education is frustrated by the configuration at the building; and band practice takes place in the middle of academic classrooms. An engineer reported in 2005 that there were sections of the oldest portions where they had found cloth insulation on the wires (pre-rubber) -- the school simply cannot support the technology that today's and tomorrow's students will NEED to be competitive. And, as a steward of all students, I hang my head in shame that kids with physical challenges cannot access all programs at that school.
For those reasons and many more, I will be voting yes to bring the proposal to voters in February.
BOE Facilities Committee Chair