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DELMAR: School project funding up for vote

A public referendum vote in the Bethlehem Central School District will be held Tuesday, Oct. 30 regarding $4.9 million of state aid funding for additional capital projects.

The EXCEL (Expanding our Children's Education and Learning) funding is earmarked for improvements to school infrastructure, health and safety initiatives and other areas.

Any capital construction or capital equipment project where the district is looking to borrow money to fund it, is required to have a referendum, said Superintendent Les Loomis of the reason for the vote.

Enhancements to the district with EXCEL money, if approved by Bethlehem voters in October, include building an additional eight classrooms at Eagle Elementary School at $2.8 million, increasing the classroom space at Eagle to 24.

"We need to add the eight classrooms in order to move to a full-day kindergarten, which we believe will strengthen the program," Loomis said.

Replacing windows at the middle school and new bleachers at the high school along with the installation of new high school security cameras and radios are some of the health and safety measures the funding will be used for.

"These are important projects that will improve district facilities, enhance school safety and save taxpayers money in the long run."

The financing from the state is a combination of EXCEL aid and traditional state building aid.

"We need to have a Bond Anticipation Note for $1.6 million to allow for short-term borrowing where the district will expend the money first and then apply for the grant," said Steve O' Shea, assistant superintendent in charge of finance.

The remainder of the money will come to the district annually and will be paid off with long-term bonds over 20 years. The local cost to the school district is projected at $4,750 a year over 20 years.

Four voting machines will be set up at the Bethlehem Middle School for voters to decide on the EXCEL funding for Bethlehem.

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