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$8.9 million

Vote set on Ballston Spa schools' repair work

District seeks OK on $8.9M proposal

Sunday, December 2, 2012
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$8.9 million


Bill McMordie, principal with Armlin Damon & McMordie, talks in March about the construction under way then at the new elementary school on Wood Road. That building is nearly finished now and district residents will vote Tuesday on a new set of capital projects.
Bill McMordie, principal with Armlin Damon & McMordie, talks in March about the construction under way then at the new elementary school on Wood Road. That building is nearly finished now and district residents will vote Tuesday on a new set of capital projects.

— Residents of Ballston Spa Central School District can weigh in Tuesday on an $8.9 million set of projects that will fix up one aging elementary school and some of the district’s athletic facilities.

District officials say the improvements to Wood Road Elementary, the swimming pool, track and tennis courts are sorely needed. They are proposed on the heels of a larger set of projects approved in 2010.

The $8.9 million proposal is the second phase of projects that were identified as part of a committee’s study in 2009.

“The confusion some people have is, ‘Didn’t we already vote for this?’ ” said district spokesman Stuart Williams.

Referendum

What: Voting on Ballston Spa Central School District $8.9 million facilities improvement proposition

When: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Ballston Spa High School Library (for Charlton, Ballston and Milton residents); and Malta Town Hall (for Malta residents)

Tax impact: estimated at $3.35 per year for a home assessed at $220,000

The first phase was $49.3 million for a new elementary school to replace Milton Terrace South Elementary, renovations to Malta Avenue Elementary School and the middle school, and minor renovations to Milton Terrace North and Wood Road elementaries. Some of that work is still going on, and a name for the new elementary school is expected to be released Wednesday.

For the proposed Phase 2, district officials have been trying to get the word out and increase turnout at the off-season vote, which is happening now because the state Department of Education recently approved the project to go to referendum and officials didn’t want to wait until spring when the school budget goes up for a vote.

Two wings of Wood Road Elementary School are built in the 1970s style with open classrooms that are divided by thin, temporary walls on three sides but open on a fourth. That style fell out of fashion because of increased distractions and noise.

The district plans to construct a central corridor and enclose each room, as is popular today.

Wood Road Elementary is one of three elementary schools in a district campus off Wood Road in Milton.

The school’s boiler and heating system also would be improved.

“With those open spaces, it’s very hard to control which end’s hot and which end’s cold,” Williams said.

Since the building used to be a middle school, some things would be updated to be more suitable for elementary students. For example, fixtures would be installed lower in the bathrooms for children, science lab tables would be removed and rooms that were set up for home economics and industrial arts in the 1970s would be reconfigured.

The renovated school also would be accessible for people with disabilities.

“It’s time to get it renovated and get it up to the 2000s,” Williams said.

Sports improvements

Several improvements to district athletic facilities also are planned.

A pool filter and dehumidifier would be replaced. Both date from the 1998 high school project and are used for many hours a day for elementary classes, school and adult swim teams and open community swimming.

“It’s basically used from 6 in the morning until 10 at night,” Williams said.

The track upgrades would redo the base and surface of the track, which hasn’t been done since the 1990s.

“We’ve been patching the surfaces, but you really need to take out the base and redo it,” he said.

The tennis courts also would be stripped and repairs made to the base before a new surface is applied. That hasn’t been done at all in the memory of district officials, so the tennis courts may be original from the 1970s, Williams said.

If the proposition is approved on Tuesday, the district would need to come up with detailed plans for each of the projects and submit them to the state Department of Education for final approval. Work could start in the summer of 2014.

The Wood Road work would take the longest, finishing perhaps in January 2017, with much of the work taking place in the summers.

The current Phase 1 of the construction projects is moving faster than expected, and district officials hope the new elementary school will be done in June so that students in Milton Terrace South can ceremonially move books and smaller items to the new classrooms before they leave for the summer break. Teachers also would be able to move into their new classrooms so that their old classrooms would be available for Malta Avenue Elementary classes to move into.

Yearlong renovations

Renovation work is slated for Malta Avenue in Ballston Spa, the district’s oldest school, for about a year, so those classes will meet in Milton Terrace South next school year. After they move back into Malta Avenue, Milton Terrace South will be demolished, making way for a new bus loop for the new elementary school.

Workers are installing windows and doors at the new elementary school and pumping heat into the building, Williams said. Interior wiring and painting will happen next.

Students came up with name choices for the new school and narrowed them by a vote to four options that reflect local features: Iron Spring (or Iron Springs), Gordon Creek, Ballston Springs and Brookside.

The Board of Education is expected to discuss those options and choose one Wednesday.

 
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