Funding scenarios for a proposed renovation project starting at $5.6 million were heard by the Cleveland Hill School Board on Wednesday night, and its members now have less than a month to decide whether to put the project up for approval in February.
While totals of up to $10.1 million were discussed, state grants and reimbursements would likely cover up to 95 percent of the project's cost. If the district used reserve funds to cover its share, taxpayers might see no additional levies for the needed renovations, Superintendent Gordon Salisbury said.
The district is moving quickly on the project to ensure it could qualify for a little over $500,000 in funds from the state's EXCEL grant program, which launched in 2006 with $2.6 billion for capital and technology improvements in schools. A grant to Cleveland Hill would cover about 5 percent of the renovations, while state reimbursements would cover roughly 90 percent, according to Dennis Corsaro, the district's business manager.
In scenarios discussed Wednesday, the tax levy increase would range from nothing to $4.20 a year for 15 years for a home assessed at $100,000.
But with the district at only 38 percent of its debt limit, reserve funds could likely be used, Corsaro said.
Charles Bastian of the Rochester-based financial consulting firm Bernard P. Donegan told board members that most districts his firm is aiding with EXCEL grants have already approved and submitted their projects to the state, since many districts are unsure when EXCEL money will run out.
But Cleveland Hill might see its application move quicker if it arrives after the current backlog of applications, Bastian said. The project would likely cover repairs and improvements to an auditorium, windows, roofing, bricks and mortar and cement work, Salisbury said, based on a building survey completed five years ago.
The board would need to approve a project proposal by its Dec. 19 meeting to have it up for vote by February, which would minimize delays in construction."
It's a very aggressive time line, and hopefully we can stick to it," Corsaro said.
In another matter, elementary school Principal Linde Gohn presented an outline for two six-week after-school programs that would both offer help for pupils struggling in certain subjects and allow others to better explore topics of interest."
We find now that with the newer standards, we can't cover all the things we used to cover," Gohn said. "We can't do those hands-on things that some students learn better with."
The programs, the first of which could launch in January, were submitted with an estimated cost of $12,780.
Gohn said she would continue exploring how many teachers and students would be interested in such programs before the board would have to approve the measure in December.