By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Unatego Central School’s proposed $27.6 million capital improvement plan comes at the perfect time to keep the needed school upgrades from raising taxes on district voters, according to Superintendent Dave Richards.
“We have an opportunity with our debt where we have some debt falling off, so we can replace it with new debt without any increase of the tax levy,” Richards said.
State building aid funding will pay for 87.5% of the project, Richards said.
“If we don’t do a project, then we lose that revenue, too,” Richards said.
Leftover EXCEL funds and about $1.3 million in capital reserves will pay for the remainder of the project, Richards said.
The project would be the first is about a decade for UCS, and the first since the district embarked on a long-term plan to turn three campuses into one.
However, the project will not complete the consolidation and will instead focus on needed improvements at the district’s two remaining campuses, the elementary school at 265 Main St. in the town of Unadilla, and the middle/high school at 2641 state Route 7, in the town of Otego.
Eventually, the elementary school will be closed and all students will attend school at the Otego campus, Richards said.
“Long term, to consolidate is still the plan,” Richards said, “but to do it all at once was too expensive. You would have had to raise taxes too much.”
The middle/high school, built in 1969, is largely unmodified since then, Richards said, so the school’s Board of Education decided an upgrade for that campus could not wait.
“There are all these long-standing things that needed to be address,” Richards said.
The project would include an HVAC overhaul, a renovated auditorium, new lockers, classroom upgrades and new baseball and softball fields.
Upgrades at the elementary school would include new septic and communication systems.
At the bus garage, the project would replace a bus lift from 1951 and also allow for the district to build ADA compliant bathrooms.
The vote will take place on the same ballot as the board of education and school budget votes, from noon to 9 p.m., Tuesday, May 18, at the district offices at the middle/high school campus in Otego.
Click on 2021 Capital Project at www.unatego.org for more information.