Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In New York state, voters approve funding school district's ADA compliance


ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Voters approved a major renovation project for the Naples Central School District.

The school district says 788 people voted yes, 657 voted no to spending $21 million dollars in capital improvements.

This was the second public vote on the project in the last four months.

The project in the Ontario County community was presented to voters in December and it failed by 32 votes.

"We have to preserve our aging schools," said District Superintendent Kimberle Ward. "and the measure only failed by 32 votes. That's why we went back to people, and made some changes."

Right now, the schools are not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, making it tough for some students and visitors to maneuver the hallways, Ward said. One narrow corridor leads to a small cafeteria, and next door, students play basketball in a gym with large cracks on the wooden floor.

"We're also worried about the old boilers that heat our pool," Ward said. "The brick around the utilities room is so old, it's starting to crumble."

The new, scaled-back plan reduces the cost of the project by $815,000, and the district plans to use $600,000 worth of Capital Reserve monies to reduce borrowing.

At the Junior-Senior High School, the overall addition was decreased by 1,000 square feet, and the entryways were made smaller. The district office, which administrators had hoped to move, will remain in it's current location.

"We started looking at the main entrance and made it more traditional for security reasons," Ward said. "We also decided to add technology classrooms, and renovate, but not expand the gym."

The total cost of the project: $21,710,000. A large chunk of the funding will come from the State Education Department's "Building Aid."

But that still requires extra money from taxpayers, and some say, any increase is too much.

Property owners will pay $1.38 per $1,000 of assessed value. That's roughly an extra $138 in one year for a $100,000 home.

The school district says project bids will be awarded in the late summer of 2012 with construction expected to start next fall.