Written by Joe Scotchie Wednesday, 13 November 2013 00:00
It won’t be until the end of the 2013-2014 school year before final numbers are presented, but the Roslyn School District is already conducting public hearings on a capital improvement project for renovations at all the schools in the district.
The most recent hearing was held at Roslyn High School on Tuesday, Nov. 5. There, Eric Kaeyer a representative with KG&D Architects & Engineers, delivered more details of the plan.
In short, the board hopes to make renovations while at the same time making significant reductions in other costs, and in some cases, eliminating certain projects.
For instance, at Roslyn High School, the board would eliminate the clock upgrade project, something it would also do at East Hills School and Harbor Hill School. In other savings, the board would find reductions from new entrance/security projects at those same three schools.
Moreover, sitework parking/paving costs at Roslyn Middle School would be reduced and bleacher upgrade eliminated. At Harbor Hill School, sitework paving costs would be reduced and gym addition would be eliminated.
All this would be done to focus on what the board termed as “Priority 1” projects. That would include sitework on the front entrance at Roslyn High School, along with a fire alarm upgrade.
At Roslyn Middle School, sitework is also listed as the top priority. At both East Hills School and the Heights School, that includes parking and paving. The Harbor Hill School would see sitework on the playing fields, plus window replacement.
School board officials listed safety concerns and aging buildings as major reasons for the extensive renovations. The district, said Superintendent Dr. Dan Brenner, hopes to add parking spaces to already-crowded situations at the schools, while Cliff Saffron, a longtime board member, added that since some of the schools are “50-60 years old,” significant renovation plans are needed.
Meanwhile, local residents had plenty to say about the proposals.
Steve Mussma wondered how much any air conditioning renovations would cost in terms of additional energy for operations. Would it, he speculated, “double” utility costs or have even a 10 percent increase?
Dr. Brenner replied that certain factors went into the air conditioning decision, including calculating the number of days when the temperature exceeded 80 degrees. He added that instead of an added cost, total costs in savings could reach as high as $2 million. Plus, the units would not be working in July and August, the hottest months of the year when youngsters are out for the summer.
Another Roslyn resident, Todd Kaplan wondered if getting rid of the “big island” in the entrance of the East Hills School might create more parking spots.
This time, Dr. Brenner gave aesthetic reasons for keeping the trees, which he noted are over 100 years old. He said that the district did a cost-benefit analysis on the matter before deciding to keep them in place. Those old trees, he maintained, gives East Hills School “among the nicest entrances” of any elementary school in the area. “It could be done,” Dr. Brenner said. “But the island gives the school a sense of green.”
Also commenting was Regina Colardi, principal of the Heights School, who endorsed the renovation plans. Colardi said moving the cafeteria and offices downstairs from the second floor would create a more secure environment for the students.
In addition, Jay Graber, another Roslyn resident, reminded the board that approval would come down to cold dollars, namely the average cost to the average homeowner in the district.
Although the preliminary cost of the bond is more than $40 million, Dr. Brenner said that the district has the reserves to lower that number significantly, by $10 million or more. He added that an energy performance contract would lower the original number even further. Based on the county assessed average home cost in Roslyn ($800,000), Dr. Brenner said the costs to the average homeowner would stand in the $260 to $300 range.