EducationThe Examiner

Chappaqua Schools Ponder $50M Bond for Upgrades, Repairs

News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

We are part of The Trust Project
New roofs and HVAC system and a new cafeteria are among the districtwide upgrades being considered for Chappaqua schools including Robert E. Bell Middle School (pictured above). The Chappaqua Board of Education may schedule a referendum with three propositions totaling just over $50 million for later this year.

Chappaqua school officials are contemplating a multi-proposition facilities and infrastructure bond totaling as much as $50.7 million later this fall to address pressing needs at each of the district’s schools.

A more detailed listing of the work was unveiled last week, nearly three weeks after the Board of Education raised the likelihood of a bond vote.

Under consideration are a variety of items that are tentatively divided into three propositions. Proposition 1, totaling $26.4 million, would include new roofs and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and communications upgrades at all buildings that would account for more than $18.8 million of that total, said Assistant Superintendent for Business Andrew Lennon.

Other work would include paving at Westorchard Elementary School and Horace Greeley High School for nearly $1.5 million, playground resurfacing at Roaring Brook and Westorchard elementary schools for about $875,000 and new lights for the Greeley Tennis courts for an estimated $584,000, Lennon said.

Among the key projects that are currently under consideration for a $13.1 million second proposition is a new cafeteria at Robert E. Bell Middle School for more than $7.6 million, air conditioning for all of the school district’s gymnasiums for $2.2 million, and air conditioning each school’s cafeterias for another $2 million.

Proposition 3, projected to cost about $11 million, would create a single point of entry at the high school to enhance safety as well as reconfigure the front office.

Work connected to the second proposition would only move forward if it and Proposition 1 pass, according to Lennon.

The district is eyeing a Nov. 29 vote. A work session to discuss the potential scope of work is expected to be scheduled for later this week, said Board President Jane Shepardson. It is anticipated that a detailed timeline will be laid out at the board’s Sept. 14 meeting, although it has not been decided whether the district will move forward with the November date.

Shepardson said all of the work is related to safety, infrastructure and upkeep of the facilities and that there’s been many repairs that were postponed due to the district focusing on issues related to the pandemic.

A major goal is how to fund the projects that would be included in the final scope of any bond with the least tax consequences for residents, she said.


“So the bottom line is, we feel this is necessary, we feel the need to take action relatively quickly because the approval process takes time and the longer we wait to take action and move forward, the longer that puts off the need for much-needed repairs and upgrades,” Shepardson said.

Lennon said if all three propositions would be approved by voters, it would add between $495 to $525 to the average district homeowner’s school tax bill, depending on their status under the state’s STAR program, before de-escalating over the remaining years of a 17-year bond.

If only the first two parts pass, that would cost an additional $330 to $350 for each of the first six years while Proposition 1 by itself would be between $118 and $125 starting with the 2024-25 school year through 2029-30, he said.

Lennon explained that this year and next, the district is maintaining $6.1 million in debt service before current obligations are reduced by roughly $900,000 for each of the next three years, the first three years when the additional $1.7 million to $1.8 million from the proposed bond would have to be repaid. In the second three years, concluding in 2029-30, non-bond debt service would decline to between $4.5 million and $4.7. million.

For the final 11 years of the bond, the district’s total debt obligations would fall below their current levels even while paying off the bond, Lennon said.

If the referendum is approved this year, the district would look to start construction during summer 2024 with completion in time for the 2027-28 school year, he said.

The Sept. 14 Board of Education meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Horace Greeley High School.

Buttonhook Property Update

At the Sept. 14 meeting, the school district also intends to update the community on the status of the Buttonhook property, the 20-acre parcel off of Garey Drive that the district has been hoping to sell for much of the last decade.

Last week Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Ackerman said the New York City Department of Environmental Protection is reviewing the district’s most recent comments. The district had sought to subdivide the property and sell to a developer.

This summer, the district entertained bids for the property, which closed last Tuesday after two months.

“They (the DEP) plan to conduct feedback in the next three weeks regarding our suggested changes to the way we’ve subdivided that property,” Ackerman said.

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.