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Board of Education sets capital project vote for Oct. 21

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Sept. 2, 2014

Proposed work tackles facilities issues, supports education program

At a recent meeting in August, the Liberty Board of Education adopted a proposition for a $13.6 million capital project that addresses facilities issues and enhances educational opportunities at Liberty High School. Largely funded by state building aid and capital reserves, the proposed project would lead to less than a 1 percent increase in the school tax rate. Voters will consider the proposition on Tuesday, Oct. 21, from noon to 9 p.m. in the high school gym, 125 Buckley St., Liberty.

This “phase II” capital project is a continuation of the preservation and enhancement efforts begun with the phase I capital project approved by voters in 2007. Phase I solved space-related issues and improved educational opportunities, health, safety and security at Liberty Elementary School and the high school. Phase II focuses on the high school and its many aging-related challenges.

“Phase II is about ensuring that our students are learning in a structurally sound environment, one that supports the programs they need to be able to compete with their peers across the state and around the world,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Silver.

Phase II Scope of Work

LHS masonry

The phase II capital project would address crumbling brick work (pictured) and issues with exterior walls and a facade original to the 1964 construction of Liberty High School.

A majority of the phase II work involves renovating the high school structure. For example, the high school brick work, exterior walls and building envelope from the original 1964 construction are crumbling and energy inefficient. Also approaching their golden anniversary, the ventilation, rigging and house lighting systems in the auditorium are past their useful life and/or dangerously antiquated. In the gym, the bleachers do not meet current accessibility standards and have malfunctioning parts that are worn beyond repair.

Almost a third of the capital project is focused on facilities renovations that will more effectively support the high school education program in the following areas:

  • Technology Education Classrooms – Create a clean space adjacent to the shop for computer aided design, robotics and engineering classes. This would allow the limited staff to more effectively deliver a variety of in-demand programs because technology classes are currently split between two wings of the high school.
  • Art and Music Classrooms – Expand the space available for art classes, art storage and graphic design technology in a way that makes optimal use of limited staff, while still allowing for classes in a variety of art disciplines. The most space-efficient and cost-effective way to do so is by shifting choral classes into the current band room space, creating a nearby addition on the high school for band, and allowing the art department to expand into space formerly used by choral and general music classes. This allows performance groups to remain close to the auditorium and avoids the underutilization of space, staffing problems and/or program reductions that might result from moving art classes elsewhere in the building.
  • Guidance/Counseling – Relocate the Guidance Office to a larger, renovated space nearby. The current location is too small to provide adequate privacy for confidential discussions, to isolate a student dealing with a personal crisis or to give students access to computer-based guidance programs.
  • Cafeteria – Reconfigure the cafeteria to improve sight lines for enhanced supervision of the dining area, bathrooms, main entrance and foyer/office; increase the food service options for students by providing space to store wheeled food-service tables (e.g., for salad bars); and increase its usability as a community space.

If the phase II capital project is approved by voters in October, work will likely take place between May 2016 and September 2017.

Funding Phase II

“Throughout this process, we’ve worked to minimize the local impact of taxpayers’ investment in our schools. Splitting essential facilities work between multiple phases does that by maximizing state aid,” said Dr. Silver.

State building aid would cover 78.5 percent of the cost of the phase II capital project. Another large portion of the cost would be covered with $2 million in existing capital reserve funds. Local taxes would cover the remainder, with an anticipated average increase of 36 cents over current tax rates (i.e., amount of tax per $1,000 of assessed property value) in the 2017-18 school year. That's an increase of less than 1 percent.

For an average property assessed at $100,000 and receiving an Enhanced STAR exemption, that would mean a $13 increase in the fall 2017 school tax bill. A property with the same assessment, but receiving a Basic STAR exemption would see a $25 increase.

Additional Resources

Residents can learn more about the upcoming vote using the links below and by attending public meetings, which will be listed on the capital project webpage as they are scheduled:

  • Phase II Capital Project - Visit the main capital project webpage for voter information, a project timeline, a list of scheduled public presentations and more.
  • Phase II Capital Project FAQs - Find answers to common questions about the phase II capital project, including a more detailed scope of work.
  • Phase I Capital Project – Find more information on the last capital project approved by voters.

 

 

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