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Carthage Central proposes two new capital projects

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GREAT BEND — Carthage Central once again will ask voters to approve a capital construction project.

The main $13.15 million project to address safety, security and building maintenance issues districtwide is as bare bones as the district facilities committee could get, board member Lori D. Miller said at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.

A smaller, $3.75 million project also was proposed to address technology upgrades and West Carthage Elementary classroom additions.

“They voted; we listened,” Mrs. Miller said. “They voted the capital project down considerably.”

In June, residents came out in droves to vote against the $34.5 million project, 785-185. The owner of a property assessed at $100,000 would have had to pay $16.12 annually over the course of 17 years, starting in 2014, to pay for the proposal.

The first proposal, if approved, would be $1.01 annually under the same terms.

“We went out to each building and asked, ‘What are our basic needs?’” Mrs. Miller said. “There are no bells and whistles. Totally stripped down.”

Among the items that will be replaced is the high school’s boiler, which was installed in 1957.

SEI Design Group owner Matthew Monaghan said comparable districts have saved $30,000 to $40,000 by installing more energy-efficient boilers.

“You’re definitely looking at lower energy costs,” he said.

Security also will be beefed up at all school buildings with security camera system upgrades and physical security at the building entrances.

“We cannot stress security enough in our buildings,” Mrs. Miller said.

The second proposition, for a $3.75 million project, would cost the average homeowner 32 cents annually.

The total cost for both projects would be $16.9 million, $17.6 million less than the previous project, and would cost the average homeowner $1.33 per year.

“We feel that West Carthage could really use more room,” Mrs. Miller said. “It takes two to three years to even build any new classrooms, so we don’t even know when that’s going to happen.”

Superintendent Peter J. Turner said West Carthage Elementary has the largest enrollment of the district’s three elementary schools. Additionally, new housing in West Carthage likely will add more students to the school’s enrollment.

The technology upgrades will increase the bandwidth through the buildings rather than buying new computers and Smartboards.

“It’s mostly the backbone we’re talking about,” Mr. Monaghan said.

However, board member Mary Louise Hunt wanted to know why technology was being pursued over the high school science wing upgrades proposed in last year’s project.

“Now, we’re not even talking about it,” she said. “I’m just a little concerned.”

Mr. Turner said the focus was stripped down, and the science wing upgrades were among the more costly items on the $34.5 million project that was shot down.

“That’s going to drive the price tag upward,” he said.

Board member Joseph A. Colangelo agreed that the science wing upgrades, while important, will have to wait.

“We’d rather get a little bit done than none at all,” he said.

The board will establish a date to vote on the project at its Jan. 28 meeting.

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