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