Edgemont bond box 3/26 issue

Members of the Edgemont Board of Education approved a resolution March 23 outlining two proposals to fund capital improvements needed at all three schools that would be included on the ballot for the school board election and budget vote on May 18. The approval of the resolution at the virtual board meeting Tuesday was a significant step in solidifying the scope and cost of the planned capital projects, which are outlined in detail at edgemont.org.

“It’s critical in the process to get us ready for the vote,” Assistant Superintendent Bryan Paul said in an interview with the Inquirer. “It establishes the authorized dollar value and the scope of the work attached to that. Ultimately that will define everything that is permissible over the next few years, assuming the vote does pass.”

The estimated cost for Bond Proposition 1, which addresses expanded instructional space at Greenville and Edgemont Jr/Sr High School and upgrading the infrastructure at Seely Place School, is currently $38,858,500 with a projected school tax increase of $65 for every $1 million assessed home value, based on current interest rates, beginning in the 2023-24 year. 

The estimated cost broken out for Bond Proposition 2, with plans to improve vehicular access, parking and cafeteria expansions at all three schools, is $15,282,625. Prop 2 is contingent on Prop 1 being passed and is not being offered separately.

The total estimated cost for both bond propositions taken together is $54,141,125, with a projected school tax increase of $400 for every $1 million assessed home value, based on current interest rates, beginning in the 2023-24 year.

Costs have fluctuated higher throughout the process by approximately $750,000 on the two-part bond prop since earlier in the school year, said Paul. The district has contracted with Nasco Construction Services Inc. to establish and refine estimates originally projected by the district’s architectural firm, Fuller & D’Angelo P.C. Architects and Planners.

School board vice president Judy Seiff and board member Jennifer DeMarrais, respectively, asked for an explanation of a proposed 5% for contingency and 25% for soft costs allocated in the proposals.

John D’Angelo, of Fuller & D’Angelo, explained that contingency costs cover unanticipated expenses.

“Some of the work we’re doing are renovations within 50- or 100-year-old buildings. If we open a wall and find a pipe that wasn’t anticipated, it would be a change order to the construction contract that wasn’t anticipated.”

Soft costs, D’Angelo said, are expenses not directly related to the actual brick and mortar construction.

“They include costs like topographic surveys, property surveys, asbestos testing and monitoring, fees for construction management services, architecture engineering designs — the ancillary fees necessary for projects that aren’t paid directly to the contractors.”

Timeline considerations

Architectural and building plans are to be finalized this summer. Currently, discussions about increased instructional space have focused on total square footage, rather than specific dimensions or design elements of new classrooms.

“It’s hard to believe, but we’re still in the conceptual phase,” said Paul.

Plans for the bond proposals will be submitted to the New York State Education Department and readied for bids in 2022. Construction is slated to begin during the 2022-23 school year, when the bond funds become available.

“Once you issue the bond, there is a timeline to completing the project and meeting certain benchmarks along the way,” said Superintendent Victoria Kniewel.

District administrators will meet with stakeholders in the community to gather further input on the bond projects during three “coffee nights” on Thursday, April 8 at Edgemont Jr/Sr High School; Friday, April 9 at Seely Place School; and Thursday, April 15 at Greenville School. The meetings will be recorded, and more information will be provided about the scheduled times and locations.

The next virtual meeting of the Edgemont Board of Education will take place Tuesday, April 13, at 8 p.m.

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