District prepares building plan

North Colonie District officials finalized a plan Monday, Nov. 19, to ask taxpayers to approve approximately $7 million in renovations for its schools.

The projects are to be funded through the district fund balance, state EXCEL grants and building aid that increased when the district annexed Maplewood-Colonie Common Schools over the summer.

The $7 million proposal scheduled to go before district voters Tuesday, Feb 12, will cost taxpayers little, said school officials.

We've got a list that's not totally approved for EXCEL projects. It's somewhere around 75 projects at all our schools, including Maplewood, that will cost around $7 million at little or no costs to the taxpayers, said Thomas Rybaltowski, assistant superintendent for business at North Colonie.

The last building improvement bonds came before voters in May 2001. The $32 million project funded work on all schools and included several building additions to the elementary schools and a new wing at Shaker High School. That proposition passed by 72 percent, Rybaltowski said.

The current projects, expected to be completed over the course of the next three to four years, have been on the district's radar for some time. Most of them are designed to address issues identified in this year's building condition survey.

However, the recent annexation of the Maplewood School has opened up $30 million in incentive aid to North Colonie to be paid over the course of 14 years. State aid increased from 48 to 68 percent, meaning a $1 million project that would have seen $480,000 in state aid will now receive $680,000, Rybaltowski said.

The improvements will include new roofs, boilers, and heating and telephone systems, he said. Work at the Maplewood school will include bringing it up to modern handicap accessibility codes, most notably with the addition of an elevator.

"These are projects identified by architects a number of years ago. They need to be done to keep our buildings safe," said Superintendent Randy Ehrenberg.

Each of the district's 10 buildings, nine schools and the district offices, are used anywhere from 90 to 100 hours a week, according to a posting on the district's Web site. Each building is open approximately 16 hours per day, before and after school, to serve the needs of teachers, students, athletes and continuing education classes.

Improvements were made over the summer to each school as part of scheduled maintenance. The latest work to come before voters will include new technologies to improve security and make the buildings run more smoothly and efficiently, said Ehrenberg.""

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