SARANAC - The voters have spoken and it's back to the drawing board for the Saranac Central School District.
The district's proposed $17.5 million capital improvement project was defeated by voters 636-355 during a Feb. 9 vote.
Superintendent Kenneth O. Cringle said he was disappointed with the outcome of the vote, but said he believes the vote was influenced by "the discouraging economy."
"I do believe in the long-term, the project upgrades are needed. They were in the best interest of our students as well as our taxpayers," said Cringle. "I think initially, it's disappointing, but that's short-term."
The primary reason for the project was to replace outdated heating systems and make mechanical and electrical upgrades at Saranac Middle/High School and the district's bus garage and maintenance buildings. However, the project also included purchasing interactive SMART boards and upgrading playgrounds and athletic fields, as well as creating a 3,000-square-foot addition at Saranac Elementary. The addition was proposed to make room for the district offices to be moved there from the former Dannemora Elementary School building which is up for sale.
Though some voters have expressed concern - the improvements were considered either unnecessary or extravagant - Cringle pointed out 90 percent of the overall project would have been reimbursed by state aid.
When asked if a project focusing only on replacing the heating system would qualify for state aid - which would be approximately half the cost - Cringle responded, "Not at all."
The school district will now review the approximately 250 exit survey forms received at the polls to understand what voters would consider important in a revised improvement project, said Cringle.
"We certainly value the input of our community," said the superintendent. "And, as a result, we will reexamine and work on developing a proposed project in the future."
Cringle added he's very optimistic "further study, patience and enhanced communications will not only produce a better plan that will meet our district's needs, but also will win the support of our community."