A $19 million project to upgrade and rehabilitate nine buildings and a therapeutic pool was presented by the Putnam/Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to the Peekskill Board of Education Tuesday.
Peekskill was the first district to receive a formal presentation on the project, which must be approved by all 18 BOCES member districts before it can proceed. The board postponed a decision until receiving additional information it requested.
Tom Higgins, BOCES assistant superintendent for administration, acknowledged that the current economic climate is far from ideal for such a project but “needs have outstripped resources.” The Yorktown-based BOCES does not have authority to levy taxes; its component districts fund its programs and projects based on a multifaceted formula that includes property wealth, number of students and state aid.
The nine buildings are all more than 40 years old and require upgrades to meet new and current code requirements. The project includes $5.2 million for roofs and $8.7 million for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in all nine buildings, $2.95 million for the pool and $150,000 for the fire alarm and public address system in one building, plus approximately $2 million in associated costs. BOCES has $900,000 in its capital projects fund and is seeking approximately $18 million from its member districts, Higgins said.
If the project is approved in a timely manner, work would begin in 2012 and be completed in 2015.
The therapeutic pool serves students with multiple disabilities, including nine from Peekskill, and youngsters on the autism spectrum, including seven from Peekskill. The buoyancy provided by the pool enables therapists to work more extensively with the youngsters than they could otherwise.
Board Vice President Fran Feuerman questioned whether Peekskill’s share of the funding would be included in or excluded from the 2 percent cap on annual spending increases; Higgins said the state has not yet provided a definitive answer to that question.
Board President Joseph Urbanowicz asked about projected energy (and cost) savings from the upgrades. Higgins said the companies contacted had been unable to date to project such savings. Urbanowicz questioned the need to reconstruct the roofs instead of the less costly alternative of refoaming them with urethane. He also asked about the impact of the project on state aid to Peekskill for BOCES-related expenses.
Higgins promised to provide answers to the board’s concerns.
In a related BOCES matter, Higgins said Peekskill is to receive $478,000 from the Employee Benefits Accrued by Liability Reserve. This fund, covering health insurance, has accrued $9.7 million but an auditor determined in July 2010 that it was not in accordance with state law and should be refunded.
Besides Peekskill, member districts of Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES are Bedford, Brewster, Briarcliff, Carmel, Chappaqua, Croton-Harmon, Garrison, Haldane, Hendrick Hudson, Katonah-Lewisboro, Lakeland, Mahopac, North Salem, Ossining, Putnam Valley, Somers and Yorktown.