Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central Schools

October 2013 Ensuring opportunities for learning, personal growth & social responsibility

SPECIAL REFERENDUM NEWSLETTER

Safety, 21st century learning, athletics & energy are themes

Voters to consider $34.2 million in renovations on October 22 Referendum at a Glance

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Contents:
2 - 7 Frequently Asked Questions & List of Projects 4 - 5 Aerial view of projects proposed for the High School 6 Traffic & parking changes for Stevens School 8 Voting details explained

n Tuesday, Oct. 22, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district voters will go to the polls in the high school gym to consider a Renovations Bond Issue Referendum of $34.2 million. This referendum would fund 33 projects that the Board of Education has chosen — following a year of study and recommendations from two committees — as the district’s most urgent needs out of an initial list of nearly $70 million in potential projects. As described inside, the projects represent the highest priorities relative to four themes: • 21st century learning needs, • Critical infrastructure and energy conservation needs, • Athletics and physical education needs, and • Safety and security needs.

most of the cost being paid by state building aid. Assistant superintendent Chris Abdoo calculates that for a BH-BL resident with a home with a market value of $200,000, the referendum will mean an estimated tax increase of $40. Senior citizens with low income tax exemption would pay even less.

Referendum Total Percent of annual cost that will be paid by NY State building aid Impact on BH-BL property tax levy

$34,172,000 77 percent 1% increase

Estimated tax increase for homeowners who have: A $200,000 market-value home $40 A $200,000 market-value home + maximum “Aged Senior” exemption* $20 Net reduction in square footage of district buildings

31,000

Taking advantage of a unique opportunity
The largest project in the referendum involves moving the district offices into some of the oldest and smallest classrooms along the front wing of the high school and simultaneously building new classrooms in what is being termed a “STEAM” (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) addition to the school. “This referendum really does represent a unique opportunity for our school district, one that the school board has been planning to take advantage of since 2009,” says superintendent Patrick McGrath. “By moving the district offices into existing classroom space at the high school, we can leverage state aid for this project and turn the roughly $2 million in revenue we will have from the Hostetter Building into $8 million

for new classrooms and high tech facilities for our students.” “This offers a large-scale improvement of learning spaces for kids, which is our mission. It is such a great opportunity that we would be remiss not to put it before the voters for their consideration,” he says.

WHEN IS THE VOTE?
Tuesday, October 22 7 am to 9 pm High School Gymnasium, 88 Lakehill Rd.

Modest tax increase
This is the largest bond issue proposal ever put before BH-BL voters. However, due to several unique financial circumstances, if approved, the referendum would result in a one-time tax levy increase of less than one percent, with

Teachers are doing their best to keep pace with 21st Century learning & technology, but we CHERYL BROTT, don’t have the BH-BL infrastructure we TEACHER & need. Even electri- RENOVATIONS COMMITTEE cal outlets are a MEMBER problem.

* Property owners over the age of 65 with an income of less than $29,000.

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SPECIAL REFERENDUM EDITION

Building Our 2nd Century
The BH-BL school district was created nearly a century ago in 1915 when the residents served by three one-room schools voted to join forces and so became the second ever “consolidated” school district in NY state. These forward thinking citizens decided to build their own high school so that local children no longer needed to take the train to Schenectady or Ballston Spa to go beyond an 8th grade education.

In 1920 what was then called the “Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School of Agriculture and Homemaking” held its first graduation ceremony for two students at what is now Stevens school. Nearly 100 years later, we need to be as forward thinking as these citizens were. How should our facilities be changed to help prepare children for their lives and careers in the coming decades? What repairs should we make now to

extend the useful life and effectiveness of existing school facilities? How can we accomplish what is needed yet limit any local property tax impact by using state money available for this? Answers to all these questions and more are part of the October 22 referendum.

How can $34.2 million in school projects cause only a 1% tax levy increase?
If approved by the voters on October 22, the referendum of $34.2 million is expected to increase the overall property tax levy by only one percent — which is estimated to be a one-time $40 tax increase on a home with a $200,000 market value. For a senior citizen with a similar value home and the maximum “aged” tax exemption, the tax increase is estimated to be $20. This modest tax levy increase is possible because the tax levy will be used to pay only a small portion of the overall cost. There will be three other sources of money as well, as described below. 1. The Board of Education has been planning to move the district offices out of the Hostetter Building for several years and has set aside money for this from the 2009 Hostetter flood insurance settlement. In the same way that families use a down payment to reduce how much they need to borrow for a loan, the board plans to apply $2.7 million in revenue toward the cost of referendum projects. Thus the district will be bonding only up to $31.5 million, not the entire $34.2 million. in ways that maximize the building aid BH-BL can receive. Almost all of the 33 projects meet criteria to be “state aidable,” meaning that roughly three-quarters of the cost of those projects (both principal and interest) will be reimbursed to us in annual state aid payments. 3. The annual budget currently includes $215,000 for capital expenses related to the 2009 referendum, which would no longer be needed, freeing this money to be applied toward the new referendum. 4. This would leave a projected $355,000 annual cost to be paid by an increase in the tax levy. To generate this much money, by 2017-18 the district would need to increase the tax levy by an estimated one percent, which would translate into raising taxes on a $200,000 market-value home by $40.

Why are these projects needed & how were they chosen?
Your home gets constant wear and tear, both outdoors from the sun and snow and indoors from your daily activities. Multiply that hundreds of times and you’ll have an idea of what happens to our five schools, which serve 400 to 1,140 active youngsters plus staff daily. After 20 years of repeated freezing and thawing, roofing starts to fail. After 40 or more years of constant use, HVAC systems become unreliable and inefficient, doors no longer fit properly, and even structures built to be used by hundreds of children daily just plain wear out. Our buildings have become outdated in other ways as well. School safety and security expectations have changed. People use more technology to learn, communicate and share information than they once did, and school infrastructure needs to keep pace with all of these changes. The BH-BL tradition is to address these issues in five-year cycles. Every five to six years starting in 1983, BH-BL has adopted a renovations plan to identify, fix, and pay for our most pressing infrastructure needs. The goal is not only to keep facilities in good working order but to fix small problems before they can grow into big, more expensive problems.

Reflecting community input
Each five-year renovations plan has started with a committee of residents and staff who studied and then prioritized potential projects and made recommendations to the Board of Education. The 2013 Renovations Committee included 28 people carefully chosen to include parents and staff from each school and from various walks of life. Committee members met from January to June to evaluate potential projects

2. Bonding $31.5 million is expected to result in the need to make annual payments of $2,506,310 for 15 years. However, an estimated $1,936,350 of this will be paid annually by BH-BL Bulletin NY state in the form of state October 2013 building aid. Referendum projects were chosen and designed page 2

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and identify the best ways to: ▶ Address infrastructure needs that are limiting students’ ability to be prepared for 21st century careers, ▶ Address critical areas of deterioration & reduce annual energy costs, and

▶ Improve student safety. “Using a broadly based committee like this to help the district gauge community values is a real BH-BL strength,” says superintendent Patrick McGrath. “School facilities should reflect a com-

munity’s values and should be changed through a careful, deliberate process to come to consensus on what residents can afford and most want for their children and grandchildren.”

SPECIAL REFERENDUM EDITION

What projects does the referendum include?
Note: Project figures given below are estimates prepared by our architectural firm. Actual costs will be determined by seeking bids from contractors, but in no case can the district exceed the overall dollar amount authorized by the voters. 21st Century Learning Needs High School STEAM addition and relocation of the District Offices 21st Century classroom updates/Infrastructure improvements - All schools Renovate two 1st floor science laboratories - Middle School Renovate three 2nd floor science laboratories - Middle School Addition of workroom/small group learning space - Charlton Heights Addition of workroom/small group learning space - Pashley Upgrade/renovate library media center - Stevens Renovate High school library & creation of Learning Commons Renovate High School Red Room to a multimedia auditorium Renovate High School Blue Room to a Black Box Theatre Renovate High School to create a student-run satellite store/bank Total: $12,945,000 $2,700,500 $577,000 $1,053,000 $524,000 $394,000 $99,000 $891,000 $178,000 $404,000 $86,000 $19,851,500

I was very pleased with the willingness of committee members to listen and consider the views of others. Analyzing so many projects was DAVID VERSOCKI, BH-BL PARENT, not easy. But every NERIC ASSISTANT committee member DIRECTOR & had opportunities to RENOVATIONS COMMITTEE express their opinions, CO-CHAIR and in the end the most important projects rose to the top.

Proposition wording
Below is the wording of the actual proposition that voters will find on the October 22 ballot: “Shall the Board of Education of the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District be authorized to construct, reconstruct and equip School District facilities, including site improvement, original furnishings, equipment, machinery, apparatus, and incidental improvements and expenses in connection therewith at a cost not to exceed $34,172,000, and shall the Board of Education be authorized to issue serial bonds and to levy real estate taxes for the cost of such projects?”

Critical Infrastructure & Energy Conservation Needs Roofing: replace oldest, most deteriorated areas in our 11 acres of roofing $2,099,000 Improve classroom electrical access, install more electrical outlets $944,000 Replace/install fire alarm systems $449,000 Replace master clock & public address systems $893,000 Renovate bathrooms in the worst condition in all 5 schools $995,500 Reconstruct/replace deteriorated window sills $264,000 Replace classroom asbestos-containing floor tiles $368,000 Repave Pashley entrance & parking lot $344,000 Demolish original Stevens garage & construct pole barn at High School $719,000 Replace classroom door locksets & closers at High School & Stevens $99,000 Replace historic gym windows at Stevens $350,000 Total: $7,524,500 Athletics & Physical Education Needs Renovate High School track & lighting, install multi-purpose turf field Renovate High School gym Renovate all 3 elementary school gyms Remove Middle School tennis courts, replace with topsoil & seed Construct new exterior restrooms on end of High School science wing Renovate & expand High School phys. ed. classroom/fitness center Total: $2,970,000 $290,000 $454,000 $36,000 $203,000 $1,074,000 $5,027,000

Safety & Security Needs Restructure Middle School traffic areas & construct a secure entrance vestibule $769,000 Restructure Stevens traffic area & construct separate parking for parents/staff $697,000 Reconstruct Stevens main office, adding a secure entrance vestibule $250,000 Add security doors at the High School gym lobby $40,000 Renovate High School nurse’s office, cabinets $13,000 Total: $1,769,000 Grand Total: $34,172,000

MORE INFORMATION: Space in this newsletter is limited, so we hope you will also visit the district website to view much more referendum information, including maps of changes BH-BL Bulletin proposed in all five schools. See www.bhbl.org/referendum/index.cfm October 2013

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SPECIAL REFERENDUM EDITION

What does “21st Century Learning”mean? How will these projects improve instruction?
One of the most exciting aspects of the referendum is how much it will improve and extend classroom spaces to accommodate changes in how students learn in the 21st century. In fact, while the overall square footage of the district would decrease due to the closing of the Hostetter Building, the amount of space devoted to student learning would actually increase. A hallmark of 21st century learning is today’s easy availability of information. In the past, a primary role of schools was to transmit information to students. Small classrooms, lectures, and desks in neatly lined rows served schools well. In the 21st century, the challenge for schools is very different. One small computer or smartphone holds infinitely more information than any traditional textbook, lecture, or library of the past. Teachers now teach students how to access, sort, filter, and use the information that could otherwise so easily inundate them. Classroom spaces must allow students to collaborate, communicate, design, create, invent, solve problems, and think critically. This is the essence of 21st century learning. voted to applied arts and technology. The STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts & mathematics) addition would include labs for hands-on work in areas such as advanced manufacturing, robotics, electronics, computer science, graphic design, applied math, 2-D and 3-D art, computeraided design, and digital music. “We’re not trying to re-create what Global Foundries, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, or General Electric has, but we can’t have 1950s-era facilities either,” explains superintendent Patrick McGrath. “Our classrooms need to serve as a bridge for students to the ways that modern workplaces operate. This project will do that.”

You can tell by the top results our kids achieve that they work hard, both in the classroom and on the playing field. They deserve SHERYL LAURIA, BH-BL PARENT, better facilities. ATHLETIC I also think the multiASSOCIATION sport turf field makes MEMBER & good economic sense RENOVATIONS COMMITTEE and will be in constant MEMBER use.

High School Library
Libraries have been shifting away from the traditional image of just a quiet study space with shelves of books to a more vibrant, interactive, technology-based center of information. In order for the high school library to become even more of a hub for teaching, learning and research, the layout within the current footprint needs to be reconfigured. The envisioned “Library Learning Commons” would make use of wasted space, condense the shelving, and create more adaptable spaces. It would include seating conducive to study and quiet reading, ample access to technology, and multi-use rooms for small group meetings, trainings and presentations.
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Classroom upgrades in all schools
The referendum includes nearly $1 million to upgrade electrical infrastructure and provide ample access to electrical power in all classrooms, plus $2.7 million for other classroom upgrades across the board. Because some but not all classrooms have been upgraded in various ways in the past, the plan is to bring each classroom up to a common district standard with regard to such things as lighting, doors, wireless coverage, projection, electrical access, heating and ventilation.

Ma Ent

High school STEAM addition
Technology has transformed the modern workplace, and it is important that our facilities keep pace. The proposed projBH-BL Bulletin ect would fund an addition on October 2013 the southwest corner of the page 4 high school that would be de-

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Why are several physical education & sports projects included this time?
The 2013 referendum includes more money for physical education and athletics than previous referenda did in part simply because these facilities have had so few updates in the past. People sometimes forget that school gyms and playing fields are also classrooms — for the phys. ed. classes that every child takes. Over time these facilities deteriorate and need major overhauls too. Our district is committed to educating the whole child, which includes promoting exercise and wellness at all ages, and to giving children skills in a wide range of areas from academics to art, music, athletics, and career readiness, to name a few. The referendum includes funds to repair and refurbish the gyms in four schools. The badly deteriorated middle school tennis courts would be removed (and grant funding is being explored to try to replace these). High school space currently devoted to the under-utilized “wrestling room” and to the adjoining, crowded fitness center would be reconstructed so that students and teachers can better use both rooms. months of the year — during the day, for phys. ed. classes; afterschool, for practices and games by our 18 interscholastic boys and girls varsity, junior varsity, and 9th grade/modified teams in these sports; and in the evenings, for nonschool, town and community teams as well as interscholastic teams. Another huge advantage of an artificial turf field is its durability. It can be used all day, every day and evening — even in rainy or bad weather if needed — compared to a traditional field where the grass (and mud) must frequently be allowed to dry out and to rest and regrow after heavy use. “There are weeks at a time in the spring when we can’t use this field because it’s too wet,” notes athletic director Bob McGuire. Modern turf fields are very different from the concrete under-layer that was first used in the 1960s and caused injuries. Today’s fields are made with plastic “grass” over a resilient rubber base and
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SPECIAL REFERENDUM EDITION

Replacing the track & one field
The largest athletics project would provide $2,970,000 to reconstruct the existing high school track, improve lighting in the track area, and replace the current grass football field with a slightly wider, multi-purpose artificial turf field. The new field would be wide enough to accommodate four sports rather than just one. It would be striped for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and football. Given the popularity of these sports in our towns, this multi-use field is expected to be in constant demand nine

Detail of the STEAM addition: Second Floor

ain trance

Proposed Improvements to the High School Building
Plus Classroom Upgrades throughout all schools
Detail of the STEAM addition: First Floor

BH-BL Bulletin October 2013

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SPECIAL REFERENDUM EDITION

How will these projects improve student safety?
The referendum includes $1.8 million for several important safety projects, which would be among the first projects to be completed, probably during the summer of 2014. As many parents had requested, this past summer BH-BL installed new electronic locks and a security card access system at entrances to all five schools to better control access into the schools during class hours. Secure main entrance vestibules are a second important part of this system, but money in the annual budget was sufficient to install fully functioning vestibules at only three of five schools. The referendum would fund the more substantial work needed to reconstruct the main entrances of the middle school and Stevens elementary. Security doors would also be added to the high school gym lobby.

Having only one drop-off area at Stevens Elementary causes multiple problems. Cars must wait for buses and buses wait for cars, which frequently causes traffic to back up onto Lakehill Road. A key feature of the proposed redesign is to create a new drop-off / pick-up loop for cars only.

Stevens school has a second serious issue that the referendum would address: unsafe student drop-off conditions. The congestion and delays shown in the photo above result from parents and buses trying to drop off students at the school’s main entrance simultaneously. This causes highway backups and parents parking on the side of Lakehill and crossing this busy road to escort their children into school. The referendum
Lakehill Road

includes funds to build a separate parent drop-off loop just east of the existing driveway, away from bus traffic. Improvements would also be made in the middle school traffic pattern. Changes to the orientation of the parking lot and new curbs will add parking spaces and allow for a smoother, safer flow of traffic during peak drop-off and pick-up times.

ADA-compliant Sidewalk

Other safety features include: moving the playgrounds farther from the road and adding parking spots so parents will no longer need to park on the shoulders of Lakehill daily.

Existing parking area

Separate drop-off areas for cars and buses will mean more safety for pupils and less congestion on Lakehill Road for drivers because cars and buses will no longer have to wait for one another to enter and exit.

Bus drop off area

New student drop-off loop + short term parking
Gate Modified blacktop play area that can also be used as extra evening parking

Gym renovations & replace historic windows Main office security redesign

New covered stairs

Relocated sandbox

Library Media Center renovation

Playground

Stevens Elementary School

Proposed New Stevens Elementary Traffic Plan & Improvements
BH-BL Bulletin October 2013
Original deteriorated garage will be demolished to add parking spaces.

Plus Classroom Upgrades throughout all schools

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What other factors should voters weigh in this referendum?
Residents sometimes ask why the estimates for these projects are so high and should understand that the market and the contractors’ bids we receive will determine the actual final cost of each project. The estimates given for the proposed 33 projects were prepared by our architectural firm and include funds for architectural and legal services and contingencies. The estimates are conservative to ensure the referendum includes enough money to do all the work described here. Residents can rest assured that all projects will be sent to bid, as required by law. This allows the district to select the lowest bid for work that will meet our detailed specifications. In our experience, the actual cost of renovations often comes in lower than initial estimates. Several factors make school renovations more expensive than people might expect, including state prevailing wage laws and the state Wicks law. Also, school building codes are much stricter than home building codes particularly as regards fire prevention. Another factor is that very few projects can be done when school is in session from September to June. Squeezing projects into three summer months and competing with other school districts to use that time window tends to drive bids up. On the other hand, projects in this referendum will increase the district’s operating efficiency in several ways, particularly due to closing the Hostetter Building. Moving the district offices to the high school and making the additions proposed in the referendum would bring about a net reduction in the district’s overall footprint by approximately 31,000 square feet and hereby reduce the annual bill for natural gas. “This plan would allow us to eliminate our least energy-efficient space — at Hostetter — and replace it with modern energy-efficient space,” notes McGrath. Any new facilities bring with them the need to plan for their maintenance. For example, typically an artificial turf field will need to be resurfaced in eight to ten years, and new roofs will need to be added to the replacement schedule. As always, the school board will consider several options in planning how to pay for such repairs. For instance, the school board may decide to put the expected future costs to resurface the track and the turf field into future five-year renovation cycles. Another option might be to establish a repair reserve.

SPECIAL REFERENDUM EDITION

Three-quarters of the referendum may be paid by the state, but doesn’t that money come from my pocket as well?
Yes, it sure does. Most state revenue comes from the sales taxes and income taxes paid by residents and businesses all across NY. But these are taxes we will all be paying whether or not the BH-BL referendum is approved. The infrastructure needs and the student learning needs here at BH-BL are just as real as the needs in New York City, Buffalo, neighboring districts or anywhere else in the state. And BH-BL residents have just as much right to use state money to meet those needs — as long as the money is being spent wisely. This is one reason why the Renovations Committee included so many residents: to ensure that the value and necessity of all proposed renovation projects has been carefully scrutinized by a number of community members.

“I take pride and the entire custodial team takes pride in the high school building. The kids see this & they take that pride to the next level. They MATT SARGEN, HIGH SCHOOL participate in the HEAD cleanliness and mainCUSTODIAN & tenance, and they treat RENOVATIONS it very well. That’s one COMMITTEE MEMBER reason why I’m eager to see these projects completed and the building updated.

An area of the Pashley school roof that is scheduled for replacement shows what can happen after more than 20 years in our climate. This roofing was last replaced in 1989. Some tiles have been removed in an effort to find and seal leaks in the underlayer. There are also weeds growing in the intersections between most tiles.

BH-BL Bulletin October 2013

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Burnt Hills

Ballston Lake Central Schools

NON PROFIT ORG US POSTAGE PAID Albany, NY Permit No. 79

Board of Education Lee-Ann Mertzlufft, President John Blowers Elizabeth Herkenham Patre Kuziak Jennifer Longtin James Maughan Joe Pericone

50 Cypress Drive Glenville, NY 12302 518 / 399-9141

www.bhbl.org
Patrick McGrath, Superintendent Christy Multer & Tara Mitchell, Editors & photographers Produced in cooperation with the Capital Region BOCES Communications Service

SPECIAL REFERENDUM EDITION

WHEN to WHERE to
Facilities in the high school wood and metal technology classrooms are outdated and have barely been upgraded in fifty years. The proposed STEAM addition will give students a very different view of technology, one that can excite and motivate them to work hard and start preparing for the many kinds of high-paying jobs available right here in the Capital Region with both a two-year and four-year college degree.

WHO can
Election Day:

Vote

The vote will be held on Tuesday, October 22, in the High School gymnasium at 88 Lakehill Road. The polls will be open from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

21st century learning

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Voter Qualifications:
All voters must be U.S. citizens, age 18 or older on election day, residents of the BH-BL school district, and registered. You are already eligible to vote on October 22 if you are registered with your County Board of Elections to vote in a general election. If you are not already registered, you may register in person or by mail with your County Board of Elections through October 17.

In addition to the initiatives describes above, the referendum includes many other improvements to instructional spaces. Among these are renovated middle school science labs, a black-box theatre and modern presentation center in the current high school red and blue rooms, and new, small flexibleuse teacher-student workspaces in the elementary schools. Continued from page 5 are both softer and safer. Typically the surface grass layer of an artificial turf field will last at least eight to ten years before needing to be replaced.

Absentee Voting: Athletic projects
Registered voters may vote by absentee ballot if they cannot appear at the polling place on October 22. To receive an absentee ballot, first fill out an application from Clerk of the Board Christopher Abdoo at the district office OR from the BH-BL website. The completed application must be returned to Mr. Abdoo at least seven days before the referendum if you wish to have the ballot mailed to you, or at least one day before the election if you wish to pick up the ballot personally at the district office from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Absentee ballots must be completed and returned to Mr. Abdoo no later than 5:00 pm on October 22 or they cannot be counted. Please call 399-9141, ext. 85025 or ext. 85017 if you have questions.

The final athletics-related project in the referendum is construction of additional bathrooms at the end of the science wing near the playing fields and concession stand. These would benefit the entire community since the high school currently has no exterior bathrooms despite the hunBH-BL Bulletin dreds of games and other community events held October 2013 outdoors year-round.

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