Rhinebeck Excel Aid Project Vote

On Tuesday, March 13, 2007, voters of the Rhinebeck Central School District will have the opportunity to decide whether or not to take advantage of special New York State funding that is available for a limited time to school districts for certain qualifying capital improvements.  The March
13th vote will take place from 2:00 to 9:00 pm in the Middle School cafeteria. 

At that time, voters will decide on authorizing a facilities improvement project that will use funding available through New York State’s ,Expanding our Children’s Education & Learning (EXCEL) Aid program. The EXCEL Aid
program provides one-time grant funding for new capital projects to improve New York State public school facilities. The resolution adopted by the Board will ask the District’s voters to authorize repairs, renovations and reconstruction to each of the school district’s buildings at a maximum total
estimated cost of $625,707.  

If approved by the voters, the District’s total annual debt service payment for this project, minus the annual State building aid payment, will be an average of $2,544 each year for 15 years.  The average impact per $100,000
of assessed full value will be approximately 15 ½ cents each year. Therefore, the owner of a home in the Rhinebeck Central School District with an assessed full value of $300,000 will pay $0.46 per year, a total cost over 15 years of $6.92, if the proposition is approved by the voters on March 13th.   

What’s the catch?  New York State requires a majority YES vote on a public referendum to receive these grant funds.  A NO vote means that none of these funds will be available for use by the Rhinebeck Central School District for qualifying capital improvements under the EXCEL Aid program.
With a positive vote on March 13th, work is anticipated to begin in summer/fall 2007. EXCEL funds must be earmarked for improving school facilities in specific categories.  EXCEL projects must address energy efficiency, educational technology,  health and safety, accessibility, and/or construction/expansion.  All school districts received an EXCEL Aid allocation this past year based on enrollment.  Rhinebeck’s EXCEL allocation is $395,447.

In deciding on a scope of work to be funded with EXCEL Aid monies and State building aid, the Board reviewed items that were identified by the District’s architects in developing the NYS-required Building Conditions Survey and 5 Year Capital Facilities Plan.  At the recommendation of the Community Facilities Committee, a number of the identified items were
deferred to some future time, before the recently-completed capital project was approved by the voters in January 2004  Those items that fit within the criteria of the EXCEL Aid program that the Board has identified for this project are:

*        Removal of asbestos floor tile in the Elementary School cafeteria;
*        Replacement of the exterior doors at the main entrance to the Middle
School/High School building;
*        Replacement of the sidewalk in front of the Elementary School;
*        Upgrading of existing original electrical panels in the Middle School/High School;
*        Replacement of the folding gym doors in the Elementary School and the Middle School gymnasiums with gym curtains;
*        Replacement of original windows in the 1950s era sections of the High School and Middle School. 

The Board of Education feels that it is fiscally prudent at this time to take advantage of the grant funds available to the Rhinebeck Central School District through the EXCEL program, in addition to the State building aid
for which the District also qualifies.  If approved by the voters on March 13th, this project will be funded in part by $395,447 in EXCEL Aid that will be disbursed by the NYS Dormitory Authority.  The project will also require
the District to finance the remaining $230,260 over a 15 year period at an estimated interest rate of 5%.  The District will be almost entirely reimbursed for the bonded amount, except for the cost of 20% of the interest on $230,260, by State building aid calculated on the entire project amount
over the course of the State’s 15 year building aid amortization schedule