Members of the Fulton Board of Education Tuesday praised Oswego County BOCES’ $35 million plan to renovate its campus for the first time since it opened in the late 1960s.
It’s a sharp turnaround from 2008, when boards of education criticized BOCES’ $48 million plan and it went down to overwhelming defeat among voters.
The $35 million project contains $20 million in what BOCES officials say are critical infrastructure needs. It includes creating a single entrance and exit for the campus, which now has more than two dozen entrance and exit points. It will also replace what BOCES says are failing or obsolete fire protection, alarm, clock, phone, air flow, lighting, plumbing and electrical systems.
$15 million would be used to renovate classrooms and provide up-to-date equipment for classes, along with some parking and energy improvements.
Voters across the county vote Monday on the proposal. (See here for a list of voting locations.)
“It’s a very dated campus,” said Matt Geitner, Fulton’s member on the BOCES Board of Education. “Little to nothing has been done since 1969 when the county built it.”
If approved, taxpayers in the 9 school districts that make up Oswego County BOCES who have homes worth $85,000 to $100,000 would see school tax increases of between $2 and $20 per year for 20 years, depending on the school district in which they live and on whether they receive a STAR property tax exemption or not. (A list of projected tax increases is here.)
“All nine districts have locked hands and are supporting (the referendum),” Geitner told the Fulton Board of Education.
Fulton Board of Education President Robbin Griffin said that BOCES will have to spend the money for infrastructure repairs no matter what happens with the vote. If it isn’t part of the project, with the cost spread out over 20 years, it’ll have to be done as part of the regular budget and paid for in one year.
“It’s the most economical way for any property owner,” said Griffin. “This is the least costly way of doing it.”
Board members said they were happier with the way BOCES pursued this project than they were with the 2008 project. They said there was more communication and that BOCES officials appeared to listen to the concerns of the districts by trimming the project to its most urgent needs.