Citing Major Facility Repair Needs, School
District Considers $80 Million Bond
By Peter Jovanovich
Pullquote: “The only way to do this is a bond. We either do this now, or spend a lot more in the future.”
At the November 13 Board of Education meeting of the Rye City School District, Superintendent Eric Byrne presented a bond proposition of $79,990,000. Approximately $41 million of the money borrowed would be spent on capital projects, including resurfacing the high school athletic field and close to $39 million on upgrades and repairs of existing buildings with the provision of air conditioning in some spaces.
Building by building, here are some of the capital projects proposed.
Osborn School: secure entry, replace portable classrooms, renovate library, and renovate and reconfigure auditorium to more flexible space – $6,698,150.
Milton School: secure entry, renovate library, and build Special Education service center – $2,007,143.
Midland School: secure entry, replace portable classrooms, and renovate library and auditorium – $6,377,566.
High School and Middle School: secure entry, renovate library and enclosed courtyard, construct art, design, and engineering center, build Learning Innovation Centers at both schools, and renovate the third floor to meet health and safety codes – $17, 983, 618.
Rye School of Leadership: renovate first floor of former Administration Building — $1,331,164.
The bond proposal includes a complete renovation of the Performing Art Center and the replacement of the turf on the high school field as well as the installation of a tarp system to deal with the persistent flooding of the field.
A potential timeline would be to present the bond to voters in March 2019, design work to being in spring 2019, State approval by fall 2020, and construction beginning June 2021.
Dr. Byrne said “Our facilities are in a dire need of repair. The only way to do this is a bond. We either do this now, or spend a lot more in the future.” He also promised that, if the bond is approved, “the day will not ever come” that the District will ask again for such a large commitment.
The Superintendent said the next step is to provide more information to the community, including interest expense of the bond and the financial impact on Rye taxpayers.
Board President Karen Belanger noted, “This project is long needed. It puts us in good shape for the long run.” She added that prior boards did everything they could to maintain the excellent educational program for our students while recognizing the devastating impact of the financial crisis on the Rye community. That meant postponing expenditures on the facilities, repairs, etc.
Board member Katy Glassberg said that this project is very much in sync with what neighboring school districts are doing.
Dr. Byrne promised to share preliminary design drawings and offer tours to the community.