February 4 proposal to include no tax increase
Now that the bigger initiatives – such as an Elementary School auditorium and updated science classrooms and a new agriculture and technical classroom at the Jr./Sr. High School – are nearing completion, smaller but important items still remain to be done in Phase 2 to bring the buildings up to where the community expects.
The February 4 capital project to be considered by the OESJ community totals $9.416 million. There will be no tax impact for this proposal.
The plan includes items such as upgrading fire alarms, doors, windows, window blinds, lifts at the bus garage and two high school boilers; new energy-efficient lighting; and upgrade finishes throughout the building.
The proposals fall into three broad categories: ensuring health and safety, improving learning environments and updating infrastructure.
Capturing the ‘smaller needs’ in Phase 2
“We have completed the big renovation needs that the merged school district had; this Phase 2 project will capture the smaller, and yet very important, needs,” said Interim Superintendent Joseph Natale.
He said the Board of Education decided to act now in order to take advantage of the 98% state building aid reimbursement, thanks to the 2012 merger of the Oppenheim-Ephratah and St. Johnsville school districts.
“As you can imagine, many structural things were not done in the buildings as they prepared to merge with each other. Those are the things that we are trying to catch up with now,” he said.
Despite the high rate of state aid reimbursement, at 98%, the Board of Education still set aside money in a capital reserve account to ensure that nay project would have no impact on local tax rates.
For this project, $3,584,621 will be taken from a capital reserve account. That funding will be combined with the estimated $5,831,379 in state building aid to ensure no cost to local taxpayers.
State Maximum Cost Allowance
When the district proposed the $24.016 million project in December 2016, it used its state “maximum cost allowance” to ensure that full aid would be received. Now, OESJ’s “maximum cost allowance” has been partially replenished, to ensure that this project will also receive the full state funding.