School Board votes to place $11.2 million bond on Town Meeting Day ballot

The Shelburne Community School (SCS) is plagued by roof leaks and antiquated windows and doors as well as building code, life safety, and ADA noncompliance, among other issues. The School Board is asking voters to renovate the aging building by approving a bond in early March.
The board voted 3-2 last Tuesday night to place an $11.2 million, 20-year bond on the Town Meeting Day ballot to pay for the replacement of the 122,000 sq. ft. membrane roof and a complete renovation of the 1967 constructed D and E wings currently used by middle school and Treehouse Kindergarten. That renovation would include:
Creation of a central corridor
Replacement of outdated exterior doors and frames and all light fixtures
An upgrade of emergency lighting
Installation of a fiber hub and panel to D and E wings
Library renovation, carpet replacement and new shelving
Upgrade of wing bathrooms
Replacement of all 1967 single pane windows
Full upgrade of fire protection system throughout the building
Shifting two air handler units to the roof and installation of heat recovery, and variable frequency drive fans
“We [the Board’s Facilities Committee] put in 18 months of work. We did our due diligence,” said SCS School Board member and Facility Chair Kathy Stockman. “The feasibility study was not done willy nilly.”
The 11.2 million bond would cost the owner of a $400,000 home an additional $280 per year in taxes, or $23.33 per month. If approved, the financial impact of the bond would start to show in the 2016 budget. The upcoming bond is the first bond that would be sent to voters since financing the B wing construction, the current home of elementary classrooms, and a renovation of the band room in 1993.
The board decided against asking for an additional $750,000 for a kitchen renovation after members expressed concerns about higher taxes in general and other increasing costs.
Board member Bob Finn noted the necessity for the improvements, but reiterated his concern about tax implications for Shelburne residents. “People would love to improve the school if they could afford it.” Member Russ Caffry’s concern with the bond is that it will displace people. “Because of the debt service we will have over the next 20 years I’m concerned that when we will feel budget pressure that it will eventually lead us to displace people.”
While all board members are budget conscious, Board Chair David Connery offered, “We have an aging facility that needs attention. I haven’t spoken to a single parent that doesn’t support this proposal. Member Tim Williams concurred, “We have to do something. There’s not going to be another bond vote in the next 20 years. We have to put money into this facility. But how much is enough.”
“We want voters to focus on work that has to be done to make the space usable,” added Co-Principal Allan Miller. If the board moved forward with the kitchen, it would have added another $21 annually in taxes for the owner of a $400,000 home.
“I really believe that we owe taxpayers a chance to weigh in on the bond issue. The board shouldn’t vote it [the bond] up or down. We need to give the community an opportunity to chime in,” added Williams.
Construction would run 18 to 24 months starting in October 2015.
The annual SCS Budget Forum will take place on Nov. 11 at 7pm in the cafeteria. Community members who want to learn more, or have questions about the bond, are encouraged to attend the forum or visit https://sites.google.com/a/cssu.org/scs-facility-review/.