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GLENS FALLS CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

Glens Falls sets vote on $32 million project to renovate school buildings, install field lights

GLENS FALLS — Renovations to Glens Falls Middle School and proposed field lights at the high school football field are the major components of a proposed $32 million capital project.

The Glens Falls Board of Education on Monday voted to set a referendum for Dec. 14 from noon to 9 p.m. at the Sanford Street School gymnasium.

The first proposition would spend $31.383 million to make renovations to the middle school, high school, Jackson Heights and Big Cross elementary schools and the district office. A separate proposition would allowing spending $736,072 for stadium lighting.

Superintendent of Schools Paul Jenkins said the bulk of the work would occur at the middle school, which was constructed in 1985.

“The middle school is the one building that has not been upgraded or renovated really since it was built,” he said.

Work would include new doors, ceilings and bathrooms. There would also be new flooring installed and painting in the corridors and energy-efficient lighting installed, according to a summary provided by the district.

Three science rooms and the large group instruction room would be renovated. The parking lot would be upgraded with new sidewalks, curbs and lighting.

The basketball court and fitness area would be renovated. New windows would be installed in the original wing of the building. Also, the main office would be reconstructed.

Field and lights

Jenkins said the turf field at the high school is 14 years old and it is beyond time for it to be replaced. The track also needs to be reconstructed.

The LED stadium lights would be aimed toward the field and have technology that reduces the glare to the surrounding properties.

There would also be new tennis courts.

Other work at the high school includes replacing the hot water heater, installing a new floor in the lobby auditorium, renovating the fitness room, replacing ceilings in the corridors and adding LED lighting. A new elevator would be installed.

At Jackson Heights Elementary, the roof would be replaced and the cupola reconstructed. There would be new windows, kitchen cooler and freezer and a digital sign.

At Big Cross school, the work includes removal of asbestos, repair of the roof deck support system and renovation of three classrooms. There would also be a new kitchen cooler and freezer installed.

Windows would be replaced at the district office.

Jenkins said the project would not affect taxes.

“There’s no tax increase based on the fact that we have existing funds that we’ll be utilizing,” he said.

The district has some debt coming off the books. Bobby Yusko, assistant superintendent for business, said the district is making a final bond payment in the 2023-2024 for its last capital project.

Glens Falls also plans to tap about $6 million from its fund balance, according to Jenkins. The remaining cost would be bonded and Glens Falls receives 75% of the cost reimbursed through state aid.

If the project is approved, Jenkins said the district will submit plans to the state and solicit bids in the spring. Construction will begin next summer and be phased over multiple years.

Voters have to approve the overall project in order for the lighting project to go forward. Even if the lights referendum passes, it cannot go forward if the overall project has not passed.

The lighting proposal has been controversial. In 2017, voters rejected a similar proposition by a vote of 833 opposed to 549 in favor.

Karen Shevlin, who lives on Grant Avenue across the street from the high school, came to Monday’s meeting to speak out against the lights. She said when she is trying to watch television and relax when there are night games, she can hear the loudspeaker even with the doors and windows closed.

She acknowledges that it is fun to play under the lights, but said it is not a good idea in this neighborhood.

Shevlin said the district’s sports program is “amazing.”

“You do very, very well. I don’t think you need the lights,” she said.

She also cited the projected rise in the cost of utilities as another factor against installing the lights.

The district plans to schedule informational meetings about the project ahead of the vote.

The Glens Falls City School District had originally planned to put a $24 million project before voters in May 2020. However, a month before the vote, the board voted to take the proposition off the ballot in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michael Goot covers politics, crime and courts, Warren County, education and business. Reach him at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com.

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