Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Where Do We Go From Here?

This is just a quick post to thank you again for your overwhelming support of our Capital Project Referendum and establishment of a reserve account to eventually replace our turf field. Those who were able to come out and vote braved some obnoxious weather for this time of the year. I want to thank all of our volunteers for working the polls and especially Hugh Stannard, who at 97 years old drove, himself to the school to help voters use the machines as he has done for a long, long time! Your service is MUCH appreciated.

Where do we go from here? Great question. As you know, the project calls for technology and security upgrades at all buildings, renovations of all buildings, and additions at Onondaga Road and East Hill Elementary Schools. We are also looking to maximize our money so we have the least impact on taxpayers ($5.19 or less per $100,000 of assessed home value).

The first step in the process is to have formal plans approved by the New York State Education Department (NYSED). This can take up to four months at a minimum.  NYSED is backlogged and understaffed, and my experience has been that the harder I have pushed to get plans approved, the further down the pile the plans have gone.

Once the plans are approved, we will send what are called "bid specifications" out to general contractors and sub-contractors. They will have approximately two months to look things over and let us know through a sealed bid how much the job would cost for them to complete the work. We then open the bids and reward the work.  By now we are into May or June if all goes well.

We will begin the technology and security upgrades by the end of June, which are scheduled to be finished first (at this point I do not want to guess on an exact completion date). The first shovels for renovations and additions will hit the ground by July or August, if all goes perfectly.

There are many more little details to attend to during this time, but this is a blog not a book!  Based on past experiences, I would expect this entire project to take about two years to complete. However, you will see substantial completion of some aspects of the project by this time next year.

We always talk about how much things are going to cost, but we are also going to track savings as well. We think we can save hundreds of thousands of dollars just by changing our phone system, for example. We will also save tens of thousands by converting regular parking lot lights to LED lights, and we will save tens of thousands on our utility bills by upgrading boilers even though we are ADDING air conditioning to the elementary schools.

It is important to track savings for you because many of the utility and technology updates we are doing can be done on a much smaller scale in your own home. For example, I was amazed at how much money LED lights can save. So I converted most of my own home to LED lighting about a year ago, and I am saving at least $100 per month on my own utility bill. That was as simple as going to the hardware store, purchasing light bulbs (yes they were more expensive than traditional bulbs, but I have already made my money back) and replacing my existing ones with LED bulbs. 

At any rate, we are very excited to begin this project and we could not have done this without your continued support of our schools, our students, and our mission. We will provide updates as we have them.  Enjoy the rest of the week, and I hear that I could be in a t-shirt again by the weekend!