Better ‘Right Than Fast,’ Superintendent Says
By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
OTEGO – After a public hearing this week, the Unatego Central School District has delayed a decision from July 1 to December on a plan to convert the middle-high school into a single K-12 campus.
The plan would close the Unadilla Elementary School; the district’s other elementary school, in Otego, was closed in 2017.
“We would rather do the plan right than fast,” Unatego Central School District Superintendent Dr. David Richards said in an interview Thursday.
At a public hearing Wednesday evening, Richards and the school board gave community members a “snapshot of where we are now” in developing a plan to renovate and reorganize the Unatego middle and high school building between Otego and Wells Bridge to accommodate 750 students. It was built originally to serve 450 students.
“We’re working with consultants and architects to develop a building plan that will have the least significant impact on taxpayers yet still provide the accommodations the students and teachers need,” Richards said. “We still have more to work out and we don’t want to rush that.”
Richards acknowledged the district was taking a risk by delaying the plan’s completion until December because Governor Cuomo has proposed reducing the state’s funding of building costs from 87.8 to 84.1 percent.
If passed by the state Legislature and signed into law, the 3.7 percent funding decrease would take effect July 1, and the Unatego district would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if its plan is not submitted before that date.
But Richards said, “We’re willing to take that chance.”
He said his “sources” tell him both the state Assembly and state Senate are opposed to the proposed reduction in funding, and both chambers passed one-house budgets that rejected Cuomo’s proposed funding reduction.