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March 6, 2014

CCS project to get second chance Wednesday

Board cut 10 percent, extended voting hours after December tie

By Greg Klein THE COOPERSTOWN CRIER
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Cooperstown Central School will try again to pass a referendum on a capital project Wednesday. 

The CCS Board of Education voted unanimously to bring the referendum up for a second vote, after the first vote ended in a tie, and therefore failed to pass.

The Dec. 11 resolution tied 180 to 180. A winter storm may have limited voter turnout. Similar special votes in 2005 and 2007 drew 1,719 and 857 voters respectively.

In response to the tie, and a tax-rate hike in Hartwick, the board trimmed about 10 percent from the cost of the project by eliminating several parts of the project including gym lighting at both the elementary and secondary schools, ceiling tiles at the secondary school and scaling back the amount of sidewalk construction. Several board members said that the items that were cut will be brought back up in a future district budget. 

The cost of the project is now $5.959 million. The money will be raised through a bond issue. The state will reimburse part of the funding through its building-aid program. Cooperstown’s reimbursement ratio is 71.8 percent and will be paid back to the school over a 15-year period, which is also the projected length of the bond. The projected amount the district will receive from the state is $360,083 per year.

The cost to property owners is now projected to be an additional 14 cents per $1,000 of property tax assessment, down from 18 cents per $1,000 in the original proposal.

“Many of the remaining proposed renovations are items that will improve our children’s safety or projects that have already been postponed and now truly need to be addressed before out infrastructure problems grow larger,” Superintendent C.J. Hebert wrote in the district newsletter.

Board president David Borgstrom said at the December BOE meeting that if nothing else, the tie vote should be an opportunity for students to learn the principle that every vote is important.

“I hope the students learn from this,” he said. “I hope (government teacher) Mr. (Jeff) Snyder uses this as an opportunity to teach that every vote counts. It does make a difference. What a wonderful opportunity for participation in government.”

The project will include a redesigned parking lot at the elementary school on Walnut Street, which will include a dedicated drop-off lane. All known remaining asbestos will be removed from the building.

The parking lots at both schools will be repaved, damaged sidewalks will be replaced and outside LED lighting will be installed.

At the secondary school on Linden Avenue, the project includes a new technology wing that will convert the shop area into two classrooms and several music practice rooms. The gym bleachers, which are 45 years old and wobbly, will be replaced by modern bleachers with railings, aisles and handicapped seating.

In addition, the secondary school will be converted to propane heating; the elementary school has already been converted and school officials said that it has saved the district money.

Voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in room 304/305 at the secondary school. More information about the project is available at www.cooperstowncs.org.