Niskayuna schools set $5.6M bond vote

Niskayuna's Van Antwerp Middle School in 2013.PHOTOGRAPHER: MARC SCHULTZ Niskayuna's Van Antwerp Middle School in 2013.

By Zachary Matson

— Niskayuna School District voters will be asked Dec. 6 to approve $5.6 million to replace the Van Antwerp Middle School roof and make other improvements across the district.

The “health and safety” capital project is timed so new debt payments will replace expiring debt and cause “no tax impact,” school officials said. The district would also use some money from its debt-service fund to cover for the first couple of years of payments.

“It dovetails with the debt the district has retiring in the next few years and works with debt service payments you are currently making,” Greg Klokiw, of architectural firm CS Arch, told the school board Monday night.

The project will include at least some work at all of the district’s eight schools and its Hillside Avenue bus garage. The most expensive item on the project will be a $1.4 million roof replacement at Van Antwerp. Craig and Birchwood elementary schools are also in line for roof replacements, priced at nearly $1 million each.

The rest of the work will be focused on replacing or repairing electrical panels and heating and cooling systems and other immediate maintenance needs.

The school board Monday approved a Dec. 6 referendum vote. If approved by voters, the district will aim to submit design plans to state officials by the end of the calendar year and begin the first phase of construction – on Van Antwerp’s roof and $108,000 of repairs at the bus garage – over the summer. The second phase of construction would begin in summer 2018, Klokiw said.

The school board and Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr. have also started to set their eyes on an even bigger project that would follow this one. That project would include more “health and safety” improvements but could also make classroom and school changes focused on new instructional programs and methods. While officials have said another project is likely on its way in the coming years, no formal discussions of what that project would look like have reached the school board.

The district will host public presentations on the Dec. 6 vote and capital project at the Niskayuna library at 2 p.m. on Nov. 9 and at 10 a.m. on Nov. 18; at the District Office Board Room at 6 p.m. on Nov. 28; and at Niskayuna Town Hall at 7 p.m. on Dec. 1.