SARANAC - Saranac Central School District has its sights set on approximately $17.5 million in improvements that officials say will save the district money down the road.
According to superintendent Kenneth O. Cringle, the school district is putting the capital improvement project before the voters Tuesday, Feb. 9. The project, said Cringle, is the result of a year-long study to determine ways to increase energy efficiency district-wide.
"We knew with the age of many of our heating systems it was time to join forces with an architectural firm. They came in, helped us review our needs and [the project] is kind of a culmination of that long study," said Cringle, who added heating systems at both Saranac and Morrisonville elementary schools are close to 50 years old.
The project, if approved as proposed, would replace the heating systems and further consist of mechanical and electrical upgrades at Saranac Middle/High School, and the district's bus garage and maintenance buildings. Improvements would also include security enhancements to each building and the creation of a 3,000-square-foot addition at Saranac Elementary.
The addition, said Cringle, would accommodate space to relocate the school district's main offices, which are currently housed in the former Dannemora Elementary School building on Emmons Street in the town of Dannemora.
"Right now, when an administration office is not in a building with students, there is absolutely no state aid available for maintenance costs," explained Cringle. "So, by moving it into a school building that does occupy students, we will have aid for maintenance and also it will reduce the extra energy and maintenance costs we're using presently."
The district only occupies a portion of the more than 6,000-square-foot building in Dannemora, said Cringle, who added the 3,000-square-foot would be "conservative."
"When we went into this, the board [of education] realized because of the dire economic times that we didn't want to add any frills to this project," said Cringle. "We're hoping [the addition] not only provides us with room for the district office but also additional space for initiating a pre-k as soon as the state initiates funding once again," said Cringle. "Our buildings, in terms of space utilization, are very well-utilized presently."
Cringle said the move is also proposed as the district has recently entered into a sales agreement for the former Dannemora Elementary building, which currently houses the district's main offices, and the former Cadyville Elementary School building in the hamlet of Cadyville. Though Cringle said he is not at liberty to discuss the terms and conditions of the agreement because of a confidentiality clause, if the sale does come to fruition, the district office will have to be relocated.
"It's very, very promising to the district," Cringle said of the agreement.
According to the Clinton County Office of Real Property, the assessed value of the former Dannemora Elementary building is $1,286,300 and the former Cadyville Elementary building is assessed for $500,000.
The sale of the properties would help offset the local share of the proposed project, which is expected to be extended over 15 years, yet "minimal," said Cringle. Ninety percent of the cost of the project is expected to be reimbursable by state aid.
In a brochure mailed to homes within the school district, Cringle stated it was the opinion of the school board and administration the proposal is "in the best interests of the students and taxpayers to do it now, when we can take advantage of the additional state funds to mitigate the local tax impact instead of being forced to make necessary repairs and replacements using local dollars from the annual operating budget."
"I would say this is as a cost-effective and practical and prudent project as there is," said Cringle.
If the project is approved by the voters, Cringle said it would be at least two years until construction of the elementary school addition and improvements are complete. The state Department of Education would also have to approve the project.
"That's normally a half-year process, if not, longer," said Cringle.
The public is invited to an informational meeting Thursday, Jan. 28, in the auditorium of the middle school/high school complex, located at 70 Picketts Corners Road. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m.
Cringle said district officials will also be meeting with various "stakeholders" in the community, including family-school organizations and district faculty and staff.
The Feb. 9 vote will be held in the middle school gymnasium from 12-8 p.m. The vote is open to legal residents of the school district age 18 and older. Voters do not have to own property or be the parent of a Saranac Central student.
Those interested in obtaining more information may contact the district office at 565-5600 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.