Dis­trict reviews Meagher op­tions

Former el­e­men­tary school could house pre-K, of­fices

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

KINGSTON >> The Board of Ed­u­ca­tion is look­ing into the cost of us­ing the former Frank L. Meagher El­e­men­tary School for both prekinder­garten classes and ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices, or for dis­trict of­fices alone.

At a re­cent board meet­ing, dis­trict Su­per­in­ten­dent Paul Padalino said ren­o­va­tion costs are es­ti­mated at $4.23 mil­lion for both class­rooms and of­fices and $3.34 mil­lion for of­fices only.

“Our goal is to have zero im­pact on lo­cal tax­pay­ers,” he said. “We’d have ... no change in our tax­pay­ers’ tax bills based on this project, which is com­pletely reach­able with what we have.”

If class­rooms are in­cluded in the project, the dis­trict es­ti­mates

it would fund the ren­o­va­tion with $527,198 in state aid, $1 mil­lion from the an­tic­i­pated sale of the Cioni Build­ing on Crown Street, and $2.68 mil­lion from a dis­trict cap­i­tal re­serve ac­count. Al­ter­na­tively, trus­tees could choose to use $882,578 from the state Smart Schools Bond Act and $2.34 mil­lion from its

re­serve ac­count, but would not be able to re­ceive ad­di­tional build­ing aid for the project un­der that op­tion.

If the ren­o­va­tion were lim­ited to ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices, the board would use pro­ceeds from the Cioni Build­ing sale as well as $2.34 mil­lion in the cap­i­tal re­serve ac­count to fi­nance the project.

Un­der the class­room plan, there would be four class­rooms, two play­rooms, and a story area for up to 76 students.

Dis­trict of­fi­cials say there are cur­rently 245 students en­rolled and 293 avail­able slots in pre-kinder­garten pro­grams at six pri­vate providers and two pub­lic schools. Padalino said state fund­ing for the pro­grams has not kept up with prom­ises from law­mak­ers to sup­port class­room im­prove­ments.

“We al­ways hear at bud­get time (they’re) go­ing to in­crease UPK (uni­ver­sal prekinder­garten),” he said. “They talked about it last

year, they talked about the year be­fore, but it con­tin­ues to re­main flat. From 2006 to 2016, there’s been a nom­i­nal in­crease in pre-K in spite of all the po­lit­i­cal rhetoric around this topic.”

Of­fi­cials re­ported that Kingston re­ceived $598,396 in state aid for prekinder­garten in 2006 and $785,700 in 2016. Padalino said prekinder­garten classes would cost $1.49 mil­lion an­nu­ally at Meagher and $2 mil­lion if two class­rooms were added in other build­ings.

Board of Ed­u­ca­tion trus­tees plan fur­ther dis­cus­sion dur­ing their Oct. 19 meet­ing, and ex­pect to vote on set­ting a pub­lic ref­er­en­dum in De­cem­ber over whether to use cap­i­tal re­serve funds for the project. Bids would be sought in 2017 and ren­o­va­tions would be done the fol­low­ing year.

Meagher El­e­men­tary School, which last had classes in June 2012, oc­cu­pies a 3.6-acre site at 21 Wynkoop Place in Kingston. Ac­cord­ing to Ul­ster

County records, it com­prises 31,600 square feet and its as­sessed value de­creased from $2,336,000 in 2012 to $540,000 in 2013 and 2014.

School of­fi­cials say build­ing dates to 1874, with ad­di­tions in 1917, 1961, and 1996.

Dis­trict of­fi­cials were pre­vi­ously close to sell­ing the Meagher build­ing, but in January 2014 re­jected a $220,000 bid from Apol­lon Group LLC af­ter say­ing they wanted to con­sider op­tions to re­use the site.

FREE­MAN FILE PHOTO

The former Frank L. Meagher El­e­men­tary School is on Wynkoop Place in Kingston.

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