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Voters support PCS project

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POTSDAM - Voters in the Potsdam Central School District overwhelmingly supported the district’s $18 million building renovation project.

The project, which will focus on making the district more energy efficient, passed with 365 yes votes and 95 no votes.

Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said he was pleased the district’s residents showed support for their school.

“It’s a very good margin, 79 percent. We’re elated with the outcome of the vote, which is indicative of the community’s support for the school and our students,” he said. “We have a very educated community, and I think they understood that despite tough financial times facing our district, the timing for this was right and it will provide cost savings for the district through reduced energy costs.”

Voters said they felt the plan merited their support.

“We have always supported education,” Sue Gibbs said. “My husband taught and I taught as well. Our children graduated from Potsdam. We feel and they feel they got a very fine education and we would like to see that continue.”

Other supporters of the project noted the work was an investment in the school and the community.

“I think there are many good reasons to support it,” David Bradford said. “The main one is it’s an investment. They’ll be getting an immediate return with better facilities and in the long-term with energy savings.”

Henry Walters also used the word investment when describing why he supported the project.

“It’s an investment for the building and for the students,” he said. “Somebody had to vote yes when I was a student or the school wouldn’t have been built.”

Mr. Walter’s wife, Nancy, also supported the project, noting that some of the district’s buildings were in serious need of work.

“We have some old buildings and over time they just deteriorate,” she said.

According to estimates made by the district’s architect, SEI Design, the district’s return on its investment is expected to be roughly $45,000 per year in reduced energy costs. When coupled with $75,000 in grants from NYSERDA and an anticipated $17,000 in reduced maintenance costs, the district expects to see $774,350 in savings over the next 15 years.

Board of education member Wade A. Davis has noted at previous meetings that brings what was once a $2.5 million local share down to $1,745,350.

Despite the local share though, the project is being paid for without having a negative impact on the district’s taxpayers.

To cover the district’s share of project costs, Mr. Brady said they’re using $885,000 from a capital reserve fund and $1,617,000 in debt service payments that are currently budgeted for debt that is soon to be paid off. Those two sources coupled with $15,498,000 in building aid from the state allow the project to be paid for without increasing taxes for project related expenses.

The project includes $3.1 million in work at the elementary school, $3 million at the middle school and $10.6 million in work at the high school.

Work at Lawrence Avenue Elementary includes roof replacement, interior lighting replacement, replacement of food service equipment, new carpeting in the main office and second grade wing, and repairs to the ceiling by the gym.

At AA Kingston Middle School interior lighting replacement, electrical distribution upgrades, reconstruction of the back parking lot and repairs to the sidewalk and loading dock, replacement of food service equipment, replacement of four exterior doors and new roofing on small section of the building are all planned.

At the high school, siding and window replacements on the 1929 wing, roof replacement, heating distribution system replacement, auditorium renovations, interior lighting replacement and exterior door replacements are all slated to be done.

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