2016 Capital Project Referendum

Frequently Asked Questions Available Documents

Was any consideration given to installing solar panels in conjunction with the roof work? If so, why was it not ultimately included in the proposal? If there was no consideration, why not?

Solar was discussed during the project scoping phase, and a small demonstration solar array is currently being proposed as part of the capital project.  This demonstration solar array is the maximum amount of solar panels for which SED will currently provide Building Aid. It was thought that, since the District currently has favorable electric rates, the addition of more solar panels to this project was deemed to be cost prohibitive. 

In the future, if the cost for electricity goes up and/or the solar panel cost and efficiency improves, the District could certainly consider installing more solar panels. 


What are you planning to do in this project?

This project is expected to address needs in 5 areas: (1) health/safety/security, (2) energy efficiency: roofs/windows/doors/lighting, (3) building infrastructure, (4) educational space, and (5) exterior/fields/sitework. See the scope of work posted on the right side of this page for detailed information.


How did you come up with $12 million as the cost of this project?

 The district used the building condition survey, a state-mandated facilities review tool, in consultation with the district’s facilities director and staff, to assemble a list of work that needed to be done. Those tasks were prioritized, analyzed and discussed.  The district hired professionals including architects and a construction manager to give us input on the work, how it should be carried out and the anticipated cost of doing it.  We also solicited input from the community, by assembling and consulting with a Community Facilities Taskforce composed of your friends and neighbors.  This process resulted in the proposal we will put before the voters on December 6th, with a cost of $12,089,160.


Isn’t this pretty expensive for a project that doesn’t include any new construction?

In fact, the previous capital project, which included constructing new classroom and office space at CLS, and a new gym and auditorium at BMS/RHS cost more than twice as much as the current proposal. We’ve tried to be as cost conscious as possible.


Can the district just pay for the work on this project through its regular budget?

Your Board of Education believes it would benefit the taxpayers to do the work through a capital project rather than the annual budget process, for several reasons. First, New York State limits the increase in the tax levy from one year’s budget to the next to 2% with some adjustments, or the consumer price index, whichever is less. Under that formula, it would be impossible to do even a portion of the work without either exceeding the tax cap (requiring 60% approval of the voters in the district) or slashing educational programs and services. Second, if the District does the work through a capital project, it will be reimbursed by New York State at a rate of 36.8% on the state “aidable” items. Most of the work we are planning is “aidable.” However, if the work was paid for from the regular budget, the District would not be reimbursed. Ultimately, to maintain our facilities, this project will save taxpayers money in the long run.


I hear that most of the work will be maintenance-type work. Hasn’t the district been maintaining the buildings all along?

The district does ongoing, routine maintenance work every year. The proposed work is not “routine maintenance” but, instead, is a collection of medium to large-sized projects that fall outside the definition of routine maintenance. For example, the district plans to re-coat the roof on Rhinebeck High School to extend the expiring warranty. This is a specialized job that requires State Education Department approval (because it is being done on a public school building) and could not have been done as part of its routine maintenance of the building. As an additional example, the curtain walls (the walls of windows) at the front and back of CLS are almost 50 years old, dating back to when the building was first built. Over time, the frames have worn out, elements have separated, and they leak both air and water. The district’s staff has done maintenance on the curtain walls over the years, but at this point, it’s more cost-effective and energy efficient to replace them with modern elements than to try to keep repairing half-century old window walls.


It looks like most of the work is being done at BMS/RHS. Is that right?

It is true that many of the items of work are being done at RHS, but that’s partly because the high school building is the oldest facility in the district (the present RHS was first constructed in 1950).  CLS, built in 1966 and expanded since, needs fewer individual pieces of work, while BMS (the newest building, constructed in 1997) requires the fewest work items.  But all 3 buildings are included in the project, with some of the higher-priced items (such as the curtain wall reconstruction) taking place at CLS.


Does RHS really need an emergency generator? We’ve gotten along without one fine so far.

Rhinebeck High School is a designated American Red Cross emergency shelter, but, without a generator, the building can’t serve that purpose if there is a power outage. The intent is not to use the generator to operate the building as a school, but to fulfill the mission of providing emergency shelter to the residents of the RCSD community if a disaster were to make that necessary.  Also, the cost of emergency generators has declined significantly over the years, making now a good time to invest in this important piece of equipment, for the benefit of the entire community.


Are you modernizing any classrooms?

The only classroom that is part of the project is the Physics classroom/lab at RHS, which has not been renovated since the building was built and is quite outdated.   Renovating the Physics classroom/lab should serve the needs of our kids for the foreseeable future.


Are you using “green” technologies in the project?

At this stage, we can’t say for sure how much of the project will utilize “green” technologies. If this project is approved, we expect the architects to look to sustainable and high performance technologies in the design of the project to the maximum extent feasible within the budget set for the project and the requirements that New York State places on us.


When will the project begin? How long will it take?

If the voters approve the referendum on December 6, work will begin immediately to generate drawings, gain State Education Department approvals, bid, and award the job. We anticipate that construction will begin during the summer of 2018 and end within two years.


What will be the impact of the work on the kids?

Most of the work is planned to be done during the summers, specifically so that it won’t interrupt school. We don’t expect classes to be affected.  It’s possible that some of our athletic fields won’t be usable for portions of the project, since work on some fields is part of the project. Those fields will need 2 growing seasons from the time the work is done to be usable.  We will make arrangements for alternate practice and playing spaces during this time, as we have in the past.


Shouldn’t we just wait until the economy is better to do such a large project?

This is actually good timing because interest rates are very low and, therefore, the cost of borrowing for the district is likely to increase the longer we wait, which means the costs to the taxpayers would be higher. As well, the costs of materials and labor are very likely to increase the longer we wait to get started; in other words, the work planned for this project will cost more to do (and there will likely be more that will need to be done) the longer we wait.


Can I find out about how much this will cost me as a taxpayer before the vote?

Yes you can. Go to the calculator on the right of this page and enter the proper amounts. You’ll need to know the assessed value of your home or property which can be found on your most recent tax bill. Bear in mind that the figure you get from the calculator will be approximate. We have estimated the interest rate the District will borrow for construction, but the actual rate will be determined once the project is approved by the voters, and we are ready to borrow. This is another reason for this project to be undertaken now, while interest rates are low.


We don’t need a “Cadillac” school project with lots of fancy luxury items.

We agree! Your Board of Education believes that there are no “extras” in the scope of work.  All of this work will have to be done in some way, at some point, to keep our facilities warm, safe and dry for our students and community.  Pease check the documents on the right to check out what we are planning to do.


How can I get more information?

You can find out more by:

  • Visiting the district’s website
  • Attending a public presentation in the BMS/RHS library on Tuesday, November 22nd at 7 p.m. Un addition, a second public presentation has been added, on Tuesday, November 29th also at 7 p.m. in the BMS/RHS library. 
  • Coming to a building tour on either Saturday, November 19th at 9:30 am or Monday, November 21st at 4:00 pm. Both tours will begin at CLS
  • Attending an upcoming “Coffee With the Board” on Thursday, November 17th at either 9 a.m. in the CLS Community Room or at 7 p.m. in the BMS/RHS Library
  • Calling or visiting the district office (871-5520) and asking for Christine Belcher or Donna Ellis
  • Speaking to any member of your Board of Education (see www.rhinebeckcsd.org under the “Board of Education” tab for contact information)
  • Attending a Board of Education meeting before the vote (there are meetings scheduled for November 8th and 22nd at 7:30 p.m. at the BMS/RHS Library)


It seems like you are rushing this vote. Would you explain the timing of the referendum? In addition, I would like to hear more about this project, but feel that additional public presentations are needed. Can additional presentations be scheduled after the Thanksgiving holiday?

 The District has scheduled two public informational presentations between now and December 6, 2016, the date of the referendum vote.  The first will be held on Tuesday, November 22nd at 7 p.m. In response to community feedback, we will hold an additional presentation on Tuesday, November 29th, also at 7 p.m.  Both will be held in the BMS/RHS library.  There will be an opportunity for questions and answers at each presentation so that community members can have all of their questions and concerns addressed before the vote.

In addition, there will be one more facilities "walk-through," on Monday, November 21st, starting at 4 p.m., to show the areas in both CLS and BMS/RHS where the proposed work is to take place.  The tour will depart from the front entrance of CLS. Additional tours can be scheduled if there is an interest on the part of community members. In addition, District administrators stand ready to answer questions that members of the community may have. Please call Superintendent Joe Phelan or Assistant Superintendent Tom Burnell at (845) 871-5520 with your questions, to schedule additional presentations or building tours, or to share any other input regarding the project.

The timing of the referendum on this proposed project is based on New York State law.  We are attempting to hold a Capital Project Referendum vote as soon as reasonably possible so that, if the referendum passes, we can start the months-long process of design work, obtaining State approval of the plans, and soliciting bids for the work, in an effort to begin construction by Summer 2018.  The Board of Education believes that it is in the District's interest, as well as in the interest of the taxpayers and the students, to avoid delaying the community's consideration of the project, since delay is likely to result in cost increases and/or affect when construction can begin and be completed.

We'd be happy to speak further to the timing issues at any of the informational sessions or one-on-one.

We hope that all members of the community who want to learn more about the proposed project before the referendum vote on December 6th can avail themselves of one or more of these opportunities to gain information and share their viewpoints.




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845.871.5520 - District
845.871.5520 ext. 5527 - Transportation
845.871.5570 ext. 6560 - Registration
845.871.5570 ext. 6551 - Special Education
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Mailing: P.O. Box 351, Rhinebeck, NY 12572
Physical: 45 N. Park Rd., Rhinebeck, NY 12572


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