Friday, May 25, 2012
Board Approves Bond Referendum for Science Labs, Auditorium
The Board's action fulfills the facilities goal it adopted in 2010, to update and finance a long-range capital plan, including renovating the science classrooms and auditorium. Superintendent David Quattrone reviewed the long history of feasibility studies, space analysis, and potential designs for the auditorium, including a "B+ Plan" that the Board declined to advance in June of 2011, preferring to commission an independent review and an expanded design team.
The new schematic design, reviewed in detail by the facilities committee throughout the fall, increased the seating capacity from 347 to 508, largely through the addition of a side lobby that gives more flexibility and functionality to the entire area. Private donations were solicited to make this new design financially possible, and thus far the Bronxville School Foundation has donated $850,000, and the PTA has pledged $400,000 with additional funds expected from the proceeds of this year's benefit. A third endeavor, the Final Act, spearheaded by three residents, hopes to raise the funds still needed to reach the $3 million target. For residents who want more information, especially those without children in the schools, a session will be held in the auditorium at 7 PM on Wednesday, May 30, 2012.
The District's architect, Russ Davidson of KG&D, described the proposed projects, related budgets, and cost containment strategies. The presentation can be found here. Assistant Superintendent Dan Carlin presented projections about future expenditures, the cost of purchasing bonds, and impact on individual taxpayers. His presentation is here.The Board then engaged in discussion about various options, mostly concerning cost containment strategies. Although capital expenditures are exempt from the mandated tax cap, there was concern about increasing the overall tax burden. The Board also discussed ways to reduce that burden, including value engineering, developing bidding alternates, and transferring more surplus into the construction reserves. A combination of these approaches could reduce the need to borrow money.
After hearing a number of public comments about cost, process, the scope of the renovations, and projected expenditures, the Board approved the referendum, 6-1. The prevailing view supported the idea of a $5 million bond as a way of ensuring project costs would be covered. Board member Chris Atayan opposed the project based on possible future cost implications for the school's academic program and concerns about the District's ability to manage the project. Outgoing Board member Rick Rugani suggested that the Board seriously consider trimming the project costs, deploying more surplus funds to the construction reserve, and thus lowering the amount to be bonded.
The private campaign for donations continues, the Board will review the allocation of surplus funds at its June meeting, and the special election is scheduled for October 2.
Posted by David Quattrone at 7:20 AM