F-F board, officials stress need for capital project

FONDA – The Fonda-Fultonville Central School District’s Board of Education is urging taxpayers to understand why the proposed capital project is necessary.

“There’s a fine line between a threat and advice when I say if you don’t do this [capital project] you’ll regret it,” Superintendent Raymond Colucciello said. “But I won’t bully [taxpayers] into voting yes.”

The project could potentially cost $24.5 million, with state aid refunding the district between 83 percent and 90 percent of the overall cost. The tax increase for residents would be about 40 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

The project will be on the ballot May 20 along with the district’s proposed budget.

Some of the district’s plans for the project include an upgraded fire alarm system and security system, the replacement of 40-year-old, antiquated electrical panels, the reconstruction of the school’s parking lots, sidewalks and concrete surfaces and the abatement of hazardous materials.

Colucciello said the FFCS facility is the responsibility of the state, so they have to help repair and update the building.

“The state of New York has a responsibility to educate its youth, and that means the housing of the students as well,” Colucciello said. “So, that means the buildings are supported by the state because it’s their constitutional responsibility for education in the state of New York, and that’s why they aid these repairs.”

Colucciello said the state aid cannot be used in a different manner; the money can only be used toward a capital project.

Linda Hanson, a fourth-grade teacher in the school district, said she wants people to realize if they don’t vote on the capital project now, the district will have to pay 100 percent of the cost for the repairs and upgrades down the road.

Hanson said she’s hoping the district’s Facebook page, with photos and plans for the project on it, will help swing voters in the right direction.

“I don’t think people get that we haven’t had any fixes in years and years,” she said. “A lot of people haven’t entered the district, so they don’t realize how badly these repairs are needed.”

The Facebook page for people to visit can be found at www.facebook.com/pages/Fonda-Fultonville-Central-School-District.

If voters do not approve the project in May, the school district might hold another vote later after informing the public more about why the project is necessary, Colucciello said.

The proposed capital project also includes the replacement of house and stage lights in the auditorium with more energy conservative bulbs. The auditorium’s 30-year-old sound system would be replaced. Risers in the band and choral rooms would be removed to provide consistency in sound. Carpeting and the metal ceilings would be replaced in the band and choral rooms to improve the acoustics, and acoustic panels would be added to provide better soundproofing.

The district is looking to build a year-round, community-accessible indoor track and walking area. The basketball court would be larger. The gymnasium’s ceiling height would increase to cater to sports such as volleyball. The outdoor track would have two lanes added, and the grass field would be replaced with a turf field.

The project also calls for new district air conditioning, the installation of a pool cover, the replacement of 50-year-old drinking fountains with electric water coolers, going back to electric-powered generators instead of natural gas-powered generators, and improvements to the roof, fences, ceiling tiles and plumbing.