Bethlehem Central School District officials are moving forward with a proposed agreement to lease the shuttered Clarksville Elementary School to the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, but an agreement has yet to be adopted by Board of Education members.
Under the terms of a proposed agreement unveiled at a Dec. 21 meeting of the Board of Education, the district would collect $210,000 from the county over the life of a five-year agreement. The payments would increase by $6,000 each year, starting at $30,000 for the first year of use, or $2,500 per month.
Judith Kehoe, the district’s Chief Business and Financial Officer, gave the board a brief presentation about the proposed terms of the deal, including a stipulation that would guarantee the first three years of the contract and allow either the district or the Sheriff to terminate the agreement, with notice, in the fourth and fifth years.
“As you can imagine, it’s a pretty significant move whenever you are moving your office locations,” said Kehoe. “Because they would be consolidating three operations into a single operation, they want to make sure they have the ability to use that space for a defined period.”
Sheriff-elect Craig Apple first proposed the idea to consolidate his office’s operations in Voorheesville and Cohoes into one substation of the department at Clarksville. Apple has stated that the move must make sense monetarily and save the county money.
Kehoe told board members that the district would be responsible for very little of the operating costs at the school.
“Any of the operating costs associated with the building, any utilities (which the district says are about $80,000 per year), data lines, would all be paid for by the county,” said Kehoe. “There are some limited elements that the district would maintain control over.”
The district would maintain the heating and ventilation systems at the school, mainly to ensure that if the district opened Clarksville as a school again in the future, the systems would meet state standards for operation. District officials have maintained that opening the school again when enrollment numbers rise is a priority – a point that Kehoe stressed during the meeting. Clarksville was closed due to declining enrollment at the end of the 2010-11 school year.