Time could be money for North Colonie

As expected, North Colonie is reaping the benefits by way of state aid through the annexation of the Maplewood Colonie Common School District, which was approved by voterslast October.

The Maplewood school is now the suburban district's seventh elementary school and has been slated for several of the 75 projects the district is proposing as part of a $7 million EXCEL Expanding Our Children's Learning project.

The official annexation of Maplewood-Colonie Common School District goes through on Tuesday, July 1.

The district waited until the deal was final to put forth to voters the multiple upgrades to the district's eight buildings, including Maplewood, so as to collect an extra $1.4 million in state aid.

The capital improvements will go before voters Monday, March 3. Leading up to the vote, the district has scheduled five informational meetings to provide residents the opportunity to learn about and comment on the improvements.

However, putting the referendum up for a March vote was about more than just getting the additional aid in 2008; it was to put it to use as soon as possible.

"One of the reasons we are doing it in March (is) because then we will get some projects lined up and able to start in the summer," said Randy Ehrenberg, North Colonie superintendent.

March is an inconvenient time to get people out to the polls, Ehrenberg said. But district officials are hoping that the fact that very little of the $7 million improvement plan will come out of taxpayers' pockets will get them out the door and into polling stations.

The one-time state EXCEL grant, will cover $1.8 million of the project costs, according to the district. The remainder will be covered for the most part by district reserves and additional state aid.

Through the annexation of Maplewood, North Colonie secured $30 million over the next 14 years in state incentive aid. Likewise, the district's building aid received a 20 percent hike from 48 percent to 68 percent, or $1.4 million toward the 75-project building improvement program, said North Colonie Assistant Superintendent for Business Thomas Rybaltowski.

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