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Watkins voters approve fund for renovations

WATKINS GLEN—Watkins Glen school district residents approved creation of a capital reserve fund, Tuesday, Dec. 7.
Superintendent Tom Phillips explained it will be used for either building improvements as pointed out in the five year building condition survey or towards consolidating the district into one campus.  District Clerk Sharon Clark said 137 residents voted yes and 57 said no.
“It’s not even 200 votes.  That’s sparse,” she added.
Phillips said the district is likely to make a decision on doing improvements only, or improvements and consolidation, in the spring.  He explained that the building condition survey is currently done and lists building and infrastructure improvements that need to be accomplished.  Meanwhile, an advisory committee is meeting monthly to discuss possibly moving the middle school onto the same campus as the elementary and high school.
Phillips said that committee would make a recommendation to the facilities committee, possibly in early March.  He said from there, the facilities committee would make a recommendation to the full school board.
Regardless of if the district approves consolidation or not, there is infrastructure work that will definitely be done.  Phillips said improvements to the fire alarm system, lighting, heating, boiler, and ventilation are all necessary.  The capital fund will cover this.
Other work depends on the total project.  Phillips said one such variable is the old pool in the elementary/high school campus.
“Do we renovate the old pool or does it become a multi-use space?” he explained.  “If we don’t consolidate, the old pool needs to be refurbished.”
That work will be decided if the district definitely pursues consolidation.  Phillips explained there is a conceptual footprint, but the final decisions will be made after the board of education gets a recommendation.
Part of that is also how much aid Watkins would get from the state.  Phillips said the district could get around 73 percent in state aid for the building improvement project.  However, he explained that if the district is consolidating, that aid could be as high as 90 percent.
The next advisory committee meeting is Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school library.  There is no set schedule for the meetings and dates are decided at the meeting before. 


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