After three years of planning involving more than 1,000 people and stakeholder groups, voters in the Pembroke Central School District will decide Thursday (Jan. 16) on comprehensive plans for capital improvements called "Unified Vision 2020."
Voting will take place from noon until 9 p.m. in the Jr./Sr. High School Library, located at 8750 Alleghany Road (routes 5 and 77), Corfu.
There will be two propositions on Thursday's ballot and Prop. 1 must pass in order for Prop. 2 to pass.
The proposal aims to:
- Transform the intermediate school building into an elementary school for grade Universal Pre-K through five;
- Develop a middle school model for grades six through eight that is distinctly separate from the high school, yet under the same roof;
- Use the primary school building as both a community center and offices of the Pembroke Central School District;
- Improve access to gymnasiums and the swimming pool for both students and community members;
- Expand "celebration space" for high school performing arts while creating a multipurpose space;
- Enhance access per the Americans with Disabilities Act, a civil rights law enacted 30 years ago;
- Reconstruct aging facilities (per the 2015 mandatory Building Condition Survey);
- And rectify potential future health and safety issues (such as the fuel tank at the bus garage).
If Proposition 1 is approved, it would consolidate 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. It would also allow the contruction of a separate gymnasium for the high school, expansion of spectator seating space in the existing pool area, improvement to celebration space for performing arts, replacement of the bus fuel tank and the addition of an in-ground vehicle lift at the bus garage.
Total cost: $38,505,000
If Proposition 1 is passed, then and only then can Proposition 2 be approved. It would allow for the reconstruction and expansion of a new pool for use by students as well as the public, plus storage space and seating.
Total cost: $10,915,000
Total costs for Prop. 1 and Prop. 2 are estimated to be $49,420,000 -- paid for with $4.9 million from the district's capital reserve and 17-year State Aid funding bonds, if approved by voters.
For homeowners with Basic STAR, the combined cost for Prop. 1 and Prop. 2 for a home assessed at $150,000 would be $386 a year, and $262 for homeowners with Senior STAR.
If only Prop. 1 is passed -- again Prop. 2 is only passable by voters if Prop. 1 is OK'd -- the cost for homeowners with property assessed at $150,000 would be $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).
If voters pass Unified Vision 2020, it is expected that the State Department of Education would approve the project by summer 2021 and the bulk of work would start that fall.
Thursday's vote culminates a lengthy and at times contentious process, which included early on an "overwhelming consensus" to consolidate three school campuses into one. But with a price tag of more than $120M, that option was deemed unfeasible. Seventeen design concepts and countless meetings later, Unified Vision 2020 emerged as the most doable option.
If voters do not approve Prop. 1 and Prop. 2, or just Prop. 1 by itself, "building maintenance and restoration items included in the project would still be necessary but would have to be done without the benefit of state financial aid."
Therefore, "large asset preservation work would need to be funded within the district's annual budget process, with local taxpayers bearing the full cost. ... In addition, the academic program's improvements that are envisioned would be postponed," according to an information pamphlet mailed to voters by the district Board of Education.
Qualified residents of the Pembroke Central School District can obtain and use absentee ballots. At this point in time, completed absentee ballots would have to be hand delivered by 5 p.m. Thursday to the district office. For more information, call District Clerk Sandra Lang at (585) 599-4525, ext. 1950.
For more information on plans for capital improvements in Pembroke Central School District, including pie charts and additional details, click here.