By Greg Klein
---- — When the vote is closed and the results are tabulated, it falls to Cooperstown Central School Superintendent C.J. Hebert to make calls to school board members, principals and other officials.
Hebert’s round of calls at 8 p.m. yesterday were much happier conversations than the ones he made in December, when a school project vote failed to pass after a low-turnout tie.
Wednesday, despite an early-dismissal school day when March weather came roaring back, nearly twice as many people voted and the $5.9 million project passed 404-278.
With nearly 60 percent of voters approving the project, Hebert said that he felt the board had done a good job of outreach to various communities and constituents.
“Between the second newsletter, the e-blast, the extra forum in the village of Hartwick, I do feel like we did go all out to make our presentation,” he said.
Hebert said that the project will begin as soon as possible, and that some components will be able to meet their original summer 2015 start date.
“We’ll have to consult with our architect, but the things that can just get an architectural review, should be ready for next summer. Things that have to get engineering approval from the state, those will likely start later,” he said.
Hebert said that the project contains much needed money for school facilities, but that he is also pleased that the board spoke out to preserve the technology wing of the secondary school in the project.
“It was very much a commitment to offer our students all the academic opportunities we can,” he said. “At our last meeting, the board approved two more technology courses. You can look for more science stem courses in the years to come. We want to prepare students for the future in careers like nano-technology.”
About 10 percent of the cost of the December proposal was cut in the March proposal, most notably LED gym lights at both schools. But Hebert said that the gym lighting would be addressed at some point by the district, either in the next capital proposal or in a yearly budget.
“We’re always looking at ways to reduce our energy costs,” he said.
Hebert said that extending the voting hours to morning made a huge difference with the turnout. The previous vote began at noon while this one started at 7 a.m. before the day-time storm froze.
"I did hear a lot of people comment that they were glad we added the morning hours," he said. "I think a lot of people decided to vote early in case the weather got worse."