Huge thumbs downs -- Pembroke school district voters nix two capital improvement propositions
Unified Vision 2020 -- the proposed capital improvement plan for Pembroke Central School District -- was "soundly defeated" by the majority of those who voted on it yesterday, according to Superintendent Matthew Calderón.
There were two propositions for consideration, with Prop. 1 having to pass in order for the second one to be viable. There were 1,543 voters who cast ballots in the high school library on them and they both failed.
The cost estimate for Prop. 1 was $38,505,000 and for Prop. 2 it was $10,915,000.
Proposition 1 had 196 "Yes" votes and 1,340 "No" votes, and seven blank ballots were turned in.
Proposition 2 had 249 "Yes" votes and 1,283 "No" votes and 11 blank ballots were turned in.
"We will analyze the results of the exit poll survey and decide what our next steps are after that," Calderón wrote in an email to The Batavian.
The huge thumbs down came despite three years of public input, planning and meetings that involved more than 1,000 people and stakeholder groups as well as 17 design concepts.
Prop. 1 called for: consolidating students into two buildings, with the reconfiguration of grades in each school -- UPK-5, 6-8, 9-12 -- and a clear separation between the middle school and the high school; building a separate gymnasium for the high school; expanding spectator seating space in the existing pool area; improvement to celebration space for performing arts; making facilities compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and up to mandated health and safety standards; replacing the bus fuel tank and adding an in-ground vehicle lift at the bus garage.
Prop. 2 would've created an improved and expanded pool for use by students as well as the public, plus storage space and seating.
The total price tag of $49,420,000 was to be paid for with $4.9 million from the district's capital reserve and 17-year State Aid funding bonds.
For homeowners with Basic STAR, the combined cost for Prop. 1 and Prop. 2 for a home assessed at $150,000 would have been $386 a year, and $262 for homeowners with Senior STAR.
If only Prop. 1 passed -- since Prop. 2 was only passable by voters if OK'd Prop. 1 -- the cost for homeowners with property assessed at $150,000 would have been $251 annually with Basic STAR, and $170 annually with Senior STAR.
The School Tax Relief (STAR) program provides eligible homeowners in New York State whose annual income is less than $500,000 with relief on their property taxes (you receive a check in the mail from the State's Tax Department to apply to your school taxes).
Early on, the "overwhelming consensus" in the district was to consolidate three school campuses into one -- at an estimated cost of $120 million, an expensive option that was deemed unfeasible.
According to the school board, building maintenance and restoration items that were included in the proposed project are still necessary but will now have to be done "without the benefit of state financial aid."
Large asset preservation work "will need to be funded within the district's annual budget process, with local taxpayers bearing the full cost" and as a result of the mandated upgrades, envisioned improvements to the academic program, which also require funding, will have to "be postponed," according to the school board.