News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.
Chappaqua School District voters will decide next Tuesday whether to approve a two-proposition bond totaling $45.3 million to pay for districtwide infrastructure improvements and a single point of entry at Horace Greeley High School to enhance safety.
The Nov. 29 referendum will be the first to address nuts-and-bolts infrastructure facilities upgrades in nearly 30 years, although the district did hold a $42.5 million bond in 2016 to enhance learning spaces, particularly at the high school.
Since the early October resolution by the Board of Education to put the propositions to voters, a series of forums has taken place at each one of the district’s schools to inform the public about the scope of work and how much it would cost taxpayers.
One more forum, a virtual presentation the night before the vote next Monday at 7 p.m., can be accessed through a Zoom link on the district’s 2022 Facilities Improvements and School Safety Bond section at www.chappaquaschools.org.
Board of Education President Jane Shepardson said school officials have communicated why the bond is being proposed and its importance to district voters.
“We have discussed the bond proposals at numerous meetings throughout the summer and fall, and have used multiple avenues of communication in an effort to educate the community about the bond, and answer any and all questions related to the bond proposals,” Shepardson said.
Key items in Proposition 1, totaling just under $34 million, including $447,000 of capitalized interest, are $8.5 million for new roofs for all schools; communications upgrades, including networks and fiber optics districtwide, for nearly $5 million; air conditioning for the cafeterias in all buildings for $2.2 million; and air conditioning in all school gymnasiums and the Greeley L Building, estimated to cost $2,067,655 and $1,229,832, respectively.
There would also be HVAC improvements at each school, which will run about $5.4 million, paving projects at the high school and Westorchard Elementary School for $1,468,000, and electronic locks at the three elementary schools and two middle schools for $838,000.
Then there are a host of improvements related to some of the district’s athletic facilities and $872,000 for new lighting and a curtain at the high school auditorium.
Proposition 2, if approved by voters, would borrow up to $11.34 million to address concerns and recommendations raised in the district’s safety audit and by the Greeley Safety Task Force relating to the high school. The money would build a single point of entry at the high school as well as reconfigure the building’s front office space.
In public sessions earlier this fall, Assistant Superintendent of Business Andrew Lennon said that if both propositions pass, the average annual tax increase over the 17 years that debt is being repaid on the bond would be $232 for homeowners with regular STAR and with the median house value of about $1.25 million. There would be minor fluctuations for those taxpayers eligible for senior STAR and those without the STAR program.
During the first six years of repayment, starting in 2024-25, the average cost for the taxpayer with the median house price in the district and with STAR would be an extra $451 a year.
If the propositions pass, the current schedule calls for the submission of plans to the state Education Department by next fall with construction beginning during the summer in 2024. Under that schedule, work is estimated to be finished during the 2027-28 school year.
Registered voters can vote cast their ballot at the Horace Greeley High School gymnasium from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. next on Nov. 29. For more details about the bond, visit www.chappaquaschools.org.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/