GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Glens Falls City Schools is split into buildings that dot the city landscape. Some are older than others, and time comes with a list of repairs for any building eventually. But, in the district’s new capital project plan, it’s actually the newest building that needs the most work.
Voting happens next Tuesday – Dec. 14 – for the $32.1 million capital project, which includes plans for work at several buildings. Glens Falls Middle School, which was built in the 1980s, is where the list runs longest.
“Our science rooms are outdated,” said Glens Falls Superintendent Paul Jenkins. “We have science tables in those rooms that are falling apart, so that’s not conducive, and there’s no hot water in there. So when they do certain experiments in the middle school, in the science rooms, they’re limited.”
Because it was added onto the existing high school building as recently as the 1980s, not a lot of upgrades have come the middle school’s way. That’s led to a list that includes far more than just the science rooms. Doors and windows need to be replaced; some of the replacement parts the windows would need can no longer be found. Meanwhile, moisture issues in flooring have to be addressed, and a large group instruction room needs to be reimagined.
“It’s going to be renovated to be a little more 21st century; as opposed to what it looks like now, which is your typical college lecture hall with seats on leveled rows,” Jenkins said. “Right now, that’s not conducive to how we operate in our buildings. We’re more collaborative, and we want movable, more adjustable furniture, and different types of spaces for students to work.”
That’s not even the whole list for the middle school – which also needs repaired sidewalks and curbs, a reconstructed main office and nurse’s office, and a lot of repainting, among other things – but the middle school isn’t the only building to get work. The high school would also get its share of attention – like new turf on sports fields that have outdone their 12 or so years of expected use, and an expanded fitness room. Replaced steps and brick corners, a new elevator, a resurfaced tennis court and new hot water heaters are in the cards, as are repairs to the floor in the auditorium lobby, and to the building’s music wing and chorus rooms.
Big Cross Elementary School would get roof work, abatement, and some new equipment. Jackson Heights Elementary School would see new windows and roofing, kitchen materials, and a new digital sign.
For things like the middle school’s offices and windows across many buildings, safety and security are the letter of the law.
“We want to make sure our doors are closing properly, and we can lock them. That our windows can open, and we don’t have to prop them open,” Jenkins said.
The capital project is split into two propositions. One encapsulates all of the renovations to buildings, and the other is specific to one more item: the addition of lights to the school athletic field. However, both propositions need to pass in order for the lights to happen.
The light project is priced at a maximum of $736,072 on its own. The whole $32.1 million project would not change Glens Falls residents’ taxes at all, thanks to state aid that would cover 75.3% of the whole thing. The school also has over $5 million in its own funds set aside, and debt services coming off the budget.
“So the cost of the project – what we’re asking the voters to approve – is that $32.1 million number, but generally what we see in every project is that we come under budget,” Jenkins said.
Those projects come in under budget because those budgets have contingencies – “what if” numbers in case of things like finding asbestos or water damage previously unknown in a wall.
“It looks like a really high price tag, but if we don’t run into some of those issues, we don’t spend all of it.”
Jenkins also said that the architects who bid to work on capital projects like these factor in the current supply chain issues that have led to rising prices in lumber and steel. Much like the variable dangers a budget plans for, those chain issues could always change.
If the project gets approved, it’s timeline time. Most of the work will have to be done in the summer, including anything that would shut part of the building down. Anything that can be done during the school year will be work that won’t impact classes running. There’s no strict timeline beyond that yet, but one of the first things on that list will be tackling the turf on the athletic field, which can be started on as soon as late spring.
The project is part of the school’s next five-year plan, meaning the district has reached the end of a previous capital project, which was focused mainly on Glens Falls High School and some of the elementary schools. Superintendent Jenkins said that between the last two projects and the next one ahead, all of the major repair needs across the district will be handled. In another five years, the next plan proposed will – hopefully – be little more than maintenance level.
The vote on the Glens Falls capital project is on Dec. 14. More details can be found at the district website.