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Voters asked to approve $30 million capital plan

The Frontier School District will ask voters in May to approve a nearly $30 million districtwide capital project at a time when many districts are scrambling to meet projected budget shortfalls for next year.

The School Board has unanimously adopted a $29.75 million proposal that largely focuses on improvements at the 1950s-era high school. It is not the major project former Superintendent Ronald DeCarli envisioned about four years ago when he was calling for a field house and Olympic-sized swimming pool.

"These are needs, not our wants," said Stanley Figiel, board vice president.

Even though the district's proposition seeks approval for $29.75 million, the district wants to finance $27.57 million of the amount because it plans to transfer $2.17 million out of the district's 2008 capital repair reserve fund.

The district also is pushing hard to get the project approved before July 1, so it can benefit from 84 percent total state aid, which would include an additional 10 percent in building aid.

If the proposition is approved May 17, a homeowner would face an additional $17 each year in taxes for 16 years on a home assessed at $100,000.

"In this economic climate, it will be a challenge to have this building facility project pass," Superintendent James C. Bodziak said after Tuesday's board meeting. "However, 100 percent of it are needs versus wants."

While the project largely showcases improvements at the high school, it also would ensure that each school in Frontier gets a new roof. Some schools also would be in line for window improvements and heating and ventilation work, masonry and brick restoration.

At the high school, on Bayview Road, a new library media center would be constructed, as well as some new science labs and renovated art rooms, home and career classrooms. Auditorium lighting, sound systems and stage curtains would be upgraded, as well as work on the wooden gym floor and pool deck. Other improvements are planned for the high school.

The project also identifies drainage improvements, larger distribution storm water lines, improvements to driveways, parking areas, sidewalks and curbs.

"It's critical. We only have eight weeks to educate the community," Figiel said, pressing the board to form a committee to hold information sessions.

Board member Jack Chiappone questioned the wisdom in depleting the repair reserve account of $2.1 million to help offset the amount borrowed for the project.

"Why deplete the total account? God forbid if we have to put a new roof or boiler in. Take $1 million or $1.5 million, but do not deplete the whole account," Chiappone said.

If an emergency arose, the board could use funds out of its current budget to handle such a repair or reallocate repair money for the emergency, said Richard Binner, assistant superintendent for business/finance.

The board also announced a special meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday to fine tune its preliminary budget. The board would then plan to adopt a final budget proposal on April 12.


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