ACS seeks more capital improvements funds

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By Matthew J. Perry
The Andes Central School (ACS) District will vote on August 11 on whether or not to approve an additional borrowing in excess of $300,000 to support ongoing capital improvement projects. A public hearing on the measure was held Tuesday evening.
Superintendent Bob Chakar states that up to 20 percent of the borrowed money would be reimbursed either by the state Office of Civil Rights (OCR) or Department of Education. This would translate into savings in excess of $60,000 and could cover costs previously incurred, such as fees for architects, site testing and general contracting.
ACS is presently engaging in a variety of building and repair projects, most of which are meant to bring building features into compliance with standards for handicap access that are mandated by the OCR and other agencies. Mandates of this sort have been subject to extensive litigation in New York.
The most obvious project is an overhaul of the walkway leading from the Route 28 sidewalk to the front door of the school. This expanse has been torn up by winter weather and maintenance over the years, but OCR regulations are the primary force behind the project. The new walkway will be made of concrete with a blue stone stamp. OCR inspectors must sign off on all mandated projects.
Simultaneously, the school has begun work on a modular locker room behind the gymnasium. It is expected that runners and tubes for the foundation will be poured by the end of the month and that the locker room will be operational by the fall.
Other measures have included a remodeling of the computer room, smoke door installation and renovations on the gymnasium floor. By law, the school must be accessible to any handicapped party with legitimate business, including students, teachers, parents, or district voters.
The grand total of these upgrades is expected to come close to $1 million. ACS set aside considerable funds for the capital upgrades in budgets of prior years, but bonds will still cover the majority of expenses.
Chakar states that it is always difficult to consider an increased burden during difficult fiscal seasons, but that the savings that could be realized by bonding for improvements—that in any event are mandated—make the new bonding worthwhile. If district voters do not opt to allow for the new bond, state reimbursement will not be available.
The amount of reimbursement varies, and is determined by the wealth of the district and the amount of aid it receives.
Voting on the bond measure will take place from noon to 8 p.m. on August 11 in the ACS fitness center, which is located next to the bus garage.