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Ossining School Board Budget Discussions Ongoing

There will be more chances to learn about the details of the March 6 vote on the Ossining School Board’s proposed $41.6 million capital improvements bond.

Members of the Ossining Board of Education waited for community members Saturday at the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center, but no one came to discuss the bond proposal or any other issues facing the school system. Board members said roughly a dozen residents attended earlier informal dialogue sessions and hope more will attend the next one at 7:15 p.m. on Feb. 15 at the Ossining Public Library’s Café.

“I’d like to think that the communication about this bond has been better than the last time and as a result there is already a lot of information about this bond available,” Board Vice President Dana Levenberg said Saturday. “There are so many avenues available that people don’t necessarily need to go to a meeting to learn about it.”

The $41.6 million bond to repair and renovate facilities within the Ossining School District was presented at a board of education meeting in December. The previous $69 million bond proposal was defeated in April, 2011, by roughly 500 votes. If approved, the new proposal should not cause any increase in the tax levy from current levels because of the potential new borrowing taking effect at the same time older loans are paid off, according to documents from the school board.

Proposed plans call for roughly $8 million to repair five of six boiler systems in the district, new second-floor classrooms at Ossining High School valued at $6.5 million, expansion of the cafeteria at Anne M. Dorner Middle School (AMD), $2.8 million, consolidation of the middle school locker rooms, $2.5 million, restructuring of the middle school library, $1.8 million, updating middle school science classrooms, $2 million, and roof replacement at the middle school, $1 million. Those figures were provided by the Ossining School Board.

Board member Graig Galef said he attended the middle school and high school and most of the facilities haven’t been renovated or updated since they were built.

“At a building like AMD, that hasn’t been touched since 1964, the codes have changed since then,” Galef said. “The way most of the codes work is you don’t have to adapt to code until you do something. The issue is, once you do something, it becomes mandated.”

If the bond doesn’t pass, Levenberg said repairs will still need to be made and could cost the school system more in the future.

“It would impact our operating budget significantly because we’d have to find ways of doing it out of annual costs without the benefit of borrowing and stretching it out,” Levenberg said. “If you don’t do it, you spend a lot of money in fixing things up and patching them up out of your own operating budget and then you have to look at what else needs to be cut in terms of programs.”

The next board of education special meeting takes place at 7:30 p.m.Wednesday at AMD Middle School.

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