MCS building project voted down

By Brian Sweeney
Voters defeated a proposed building project upgrade for Margaretville Central School by 11-votes on March 13.

The low voter turnout saw the measure fall by a 66-55 margin.

The project would not have raised taxes, with funding coming from money that is already on hand — $424,806 from capital reserves and $75,194 in state Expanding Our Children’s Education (EXCEL) grant money.

The proposal included the following items:
• Repairs to the locker room drain and sections concrete floor and wall caused by settling after the 2004 building project.
• A new Middle School computer lab with 25 stations.
• Wireless networking for the entire school building.
• Music room alterations to create a new break room for maintenance personnel.

Superintendent Tony Albanese said he was hopeful for project approval after about 30 people attended a public information session the week prior to the vote.

“There were some questions that people had,” the superintendent noted. “We were trying to make it clear that capital reserve funds can only be for building projects (and not other types of budget appropriations).”

In the wake of last week’s vote, Superintendent Albanese said he has been soliciting input to determine why the project failed to gain public support.

Difficult period
“I have kind of talked to folks, but I think it’s primarily just a real tough time for everybody,” he commented.

Pointing to the very low voter turnout, the superintendent added, “I think part of it is that people thought others might vote.”

He explained that the building maintenance/repair issues don’t pose any safety issues, but they need to be dealt with before conditions deteriorate.

Regarding another key portion of the proposal, Superintendent Albanese said he has received favorable feedback about the segment of the project that would have created a Middle School computer lab.

The MCS Board of Education will now discuss the project and refer the matter to its Facilities Forum, a smaller group that will bring recommendations back to the full board.

The superintendent said the project could be reintroduced for a vote in any number of formats — with portions of the proposal changed or omitted. Before that occurs, the board will continue its efforts to identify areas of voter concern.

“There’s a possibility that it (a new vote) could happen by summer, in whatever form it would take,” he explained.

“These EXCEL and capital reserve dollars can only be used in a certain of way, as allowed by the state,” the superintendent explained.

“This vote means we have to work harder to communicate to folks and address their questions. We’ll listen to what people have to say and move forward and do the best we can.”