Batavia school board refining needs for referendum money
If it comes to spending $15 million quickly on capital projects, the Batavia school board wants to make sure high-priority work on school buildings isn't pushed down the list by improvements to the Batavia High School athletics fields.
Tuesday the board's finance committee, which includes all board members, directed the district's buildings and grounds director and its assistant superintendent for finance to revise the list of projects they proposed, to make that clear.
Board member Jason Stoops said he doesn't want to see athletic fields work done at the expense of items such as roof and lighting replacements. "I think the citizens would want assurances for that," he said.
The committee reviewed a list with 40-plus projects that could be paid for with borrowed money, if voters approve the idea in November.
According to the list, about half of the money would go to the sports field work, including installing artificial turf, a new track and a new home-side grandstand.
Many of the items were labeled "high," "medium" and "low" priority. But there was also a category of "scheduled," which board member Gregg Hodge questioned.
The "scheduled" category is for items that are likely to need replacement between now and 2024 based on the expected life span of the equipment or materials, not necessarily current condition, said Pat Browne, buildings and grounds director. Some could move up in to the "high-priority" category at any time, he said, such as the boiler at Rotolo Middle School. The district has been repairing the boiler, but Browne believes its end may be coming sooner than the expected life span.
Hodge wants the "scheduled" projects included in the priority rankings.
"Which is 'needs' and which is 'wants' is what I would really like to see," Hodge said.
The list is being developed to let voters know on what the $15 million referendum money will likely be spent. It does not include all of the work proposed in the district's plan for the athletic fields, nor all other capital projects.
District officials say the money would be repaid over 20 years with $1.2 million a year out of the $1.5 million it normally budgets for such work.
Resident Sylvia Keppel, founder of the Bataviataxes.wordpress.com watchdog website, isn't sold on the plan. That would leave $300,000 a year for any other capital work, even less if the district decides to rent a building to house its maintenance operation, she said.
"This whole $15 million list is really bad math," Keppel said.