Wouldn’t building a new middle school be less expensive in the long run?
No. Consolidation was considered, but was deemed too expensive, even after factoring in operational savings and revenue from the potential sale of buildings (New Paltz Middle School and Duzine). To understand why, it's important to go back a few years when this process began.
Planning for the Capital Project actually began in September 2012 when the Board initiated the development of the Facilities Master Plan, which is a long-term, ground-up analysis of the conditions and needs of all facilities (and is linked to the District’s Educational Master Plan). This analysis was prepared by professional architects and used a 20-year timeframe to assess multiple options, including consolidation of schools.
One of the major considerations was the taxpayer cost of various options, which includes:
• $107 million for a two-campus option with a resulting tax levy increase of 6 percent.
• $82 to $87 million for the three-campus options, resulting in tax levy increases of 4.6 percent to 4.9 percent , respectively.
• $52.9 million for renovations to all four buildings to meet current codes and modern educational standards, resulting in a tax levy increase of 1 percent.
A plan to update basic infrastructure was also considered, but was rejected because it would only provide a “band-aid” to facilities’ needs, did not address air quality and ventilation, and was not believed to be a prudent use of taxpayer funds.
Extensive data was reviewed related to the options, including:
- Educational Ramifications
- Appraisal and Potential Sale of NP Middle School and Duzine
- Security and Access Control
- ADA Compliance
- Building Condition Survey 2010
- Building Condition Survey Updated
- Construction Escalations
- Interest Rates
- Retiring Debt
- Tax Impacts
- Transportation Savings
- Food Services Courier Savings
- Possible Savings from OT/Nurse Shared Services
- Energy Efficiency/Energy Performance Contract
- Air Conditioning/HVAC
- Demolition of Former District Office Building
- Lists of Must Have/Should Have/Like to Have Options
- Enrollment Capacity
- Construction Schedule
The Board concluded that the least expensive option available to provide a safe, healthy, and educationally sound learning environment for our students was to complete renovations that upgrade the four campuses to modern educational facilities. The cost of renovations is lower than the net cost of new construction. The proposed Capital Project is designed to complete this work in a single phase (all work is addressed in this single project).
Were staff cuts considered under consolidation plans?
Yes. Annual budget reductions related to staff cuts as a result of consolidation are reflected in the anticipated tax levy increases provided for each option. The expected savings were not enough to offset the significant increase in cost related to consolidation. There are some very important points to remember when thinking about any savings that might be achievable by relocating schools to fewer campuses:
- Unlike some neighboring districts, New Paltz is not experiencing a significant decline in student enrollment. Other districts' consolidation efforts were achieved because there were underutilized teachers and vacant space available to allow for schools to be closed. In these consolidation examples, class sizes were increased and existing space was repurposed. This would not be the case with consolidation in New Paltz.
- None of the current school buildings have sufficient space available for consolidation without expansion to accommodate the additional students.
- The number of teachers or administrators would likely not be reduced as a result of consolidation because their function is based on enrollment levels, specific needs of the student population, meeting mandates, and other factors that are not related to the buildings or number of school campuses.
- Savings from consolidation would be limited to bus drivers (due to the consolidation of bus routes) and a food service courier.
- The Middle School and High School are already experiencing overcrowding.
- Educational Ramifications