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Congers Elementary Realignment, Taxpayer Cost For Repair Bond

The Clarkstown Central School District is providing more details about the $6.5 million bond proposed for repairs to the now closed Congers Elementary School and will share details of a proposed student realignment at Thursday’s board of education meeting. The bond, scheduled for a February 4th vote, would cost the average homeowner $26 yearly without state aid and $10 annually with state aid. The state education department denied Clarkstown’s application for funding on Monday but the district has appealed that ruling.

On Thursday, School Superintendent Dr. J. Thomas Morton will present a proposed redistricting plan for Congers students that would transfer them to the New City and Lakewood elementary schools whether the bond passes or not. Congers’ approximately 300 students have been attending classes in the former St. Augustine’s School in New City since mid October. Dr. Morton said he does not think the district should spend the additional funds to rent St. Augustine’s again and repairs to Congers Elementary would take many months. 

His proposal to the school board would eliminate eight teaching positions because it will reduce the number of elementary classes.

Currently there are 45 (classes) in the three buildings,” Dr. Morton said. “With this proposal there will be 37 (classes) in two buildings.” 

After Congers Elementary was closed in late August because it was determined to be structurally unsafe, students were initially reassigned to the New City, Lakewood and Laurel Plains elementary schools but kept in separate classes. Under the superintendent’s recommendation they would become part of the general student body at the two schools. 

Dr. Morton emphasized his proposal is limited to Congers elementary students.

“Nobody from New City (elementary) is moving,” he said. “Nobody from Lakewood (elementary) is moving.”

The proposal has not yet been discussed with the Clarkstown Teachers Association.

Whether the bond is approved or not, it is likely there will be redistricting in Clarkstown because of decreasing enrollment.

“But in terms of capacity we have capacity to keep students in less buildings than we have,” said Dr. Morton. 

He will explain at the meeting his recommendation for how many students from each grade would attend each school. The proposal is designed to keep siblings and children from the same neighborhood together. 

The district scheduled a forum on the bond proposal for Thursday, Jan. 23 at 8 p.m. at the district office at 62 Old Middletown Road in New City. The public vote on the $6.5 million bond is set for Tuesday, Feb. 4 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at four polling locations. The homeowner costs for the bond are based on an average assessed home value of $140,000 and approximate market value of $440,000.  The term of the bond would depend on whether the district received state aid or not. The bond would be issued for 15 years without state aid. If the district’s appeal for state aid is successful, the bond would be issued for 30 years.

A flyer prepared by the district and distributed Wednesday breaks down the costs of the school’s repairs and reconstruction into categories.

Reconstruction of the original 1927 building gym walls would cost $1,586,753. It would involve removal and reconstruction of the south and west side gym walls and structural repair of the east side gym wall. The reconstruction of the original 1927 north and east side exterior walls would run $3,056,202. 

Removal and reconstruction of the north and east wall sections of the original 1927 building requires roof replacement at a cost of $933,604. The roofs on the 1956 and 1970 sections of the building would also be replaced.

Installation of ADA accessibility upgrades for the main school entrance, main floor bathroom facilities and one main floor mid-corridor ramp carry a price tag of $350,000.

Window replacements in the portions of the building constructed in 1956 and 1970 are expected to cost $573,441.

On February 4th, District 1 voters will cast ballots at Clarkstown North, District 2 at Lakewood Elementary School, District 3 at Link Elementary School and District 4 at West Nyack Elementary School. Absentee ballot applications can be obtained online at www.ccsd.edu or by calling or visiting the district clerk’s office at 845-639-6455 or 62 Old Middletown Road.

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Congers Elementary Bond Vote Set, Potential Redistricting Plan Underway

Board Votes For Congers Bond And Stays In Race To The Top

Congers Elementary Repairs Could Cost $8.3 Million

Additional Engineering Study Of Congers Elementary Approved

Board Vote to Finalize Lease For St. Augustine's

Congers Classes Moving To St. Augustine's Over Columbus Day

Congers Students Will Move To St. Augustine's School 

Congers Kids Want Their School Fixed

Motion To Move Congers Students To St. Augustine's Not Supported

New School Visits Scheduled For Congers Students

New School Tours Available For Congers Families

Hugs And Smiles Greet Congers Students At Laurel Plains

Congers Elementary School Closed For At Least One Year

Congers Kids Help Out Their School

Congers Elementary Parents Seek Assurances About School's Future

Congers School Closure Meeting Friday, Students Shifted To Other Schools

Parents Turn Out For Congers School Meeting

Congers Elementary School Declared Unsafe Will Not Open

Charles Clewsow January 10, 2014 at 03:58 PM
Rock parent...that is NOT a reserve for Repairs or Replacements. There is only so much tax money to go around and anyone with half a brain knows where it went....to salaries, pensions and benefits for employees if CSD.
Clarkstown Dad January 10, 2014 at 05:24 PM
Something that surprisingly is not being discussed here are the two apparent options that were brought up with this Bond. 1. Bond fails .... Congers children are divided between New City and Lakewood. Simple enough. 2. Bond passes .... Clarkstown gets redistricted per Dr Morton's comments and most if not all the schools get shuffled around .... i.e. some New City kids now go to Congers, some Woodglen kids go to New City, etc. By the way is everyone aware when they talk about the Special Ed children in Congers they are not just talking about Congers children, these are kids from across the district who go there for classes.
ADK January 10, 2014 at 06:30 PM
So much about this is troubling...if I understand the Super's recommendation, anyone whose children go to another school would be crazy to vote for this bond...it is obvious that at least one school will close, so vote no on Congers and keep your school alive...especially if im a Lakewood parent...if Congers closes Ill be safe...if they rebuild Congers Im screwed, cause it looks like only one school will survive in my area...this is madness...multimillion dollar decisions, which will have a profound affect for many years, are being decided with sloppy proposals with limited information in a rushed fashion...we don't even have the demographic report that will be used to figure out what redistricting plan should be used. The only rational decision that should be made is this: Cancel the bond vote for February...allow the demographic study to run its course...get an understanding as to the value and opportunities available for the Congers property as well as the other schools in the District...explore a variety of redistricting options including pairing schools...put forth a list of NECESSARY maintenance items for a Bond proposal to be put forth AFTER the redistricting and consolidation plan is in place...leave the displaced Congers students at St Augustine's for one more year (the money in the grand scheme of things is virtually meaningless, it is the right thing to do because precedent has been set vis a vis Laurel Plains, and it allows for some peace during a time of difficult choices...even Congers parents should support this because it is the right thing to do.
Robert Ward Kurkela January 10, 2014 at 07:12 PM
Alan, please send me an email at your earliest convenience: goldenroad@optonline.net. Thanks. Bob.
Disgusted ClarkstownRES January 10, 2014 at 07:16 PM
Again what I still can not grasp is why on earth did several board members ever allow this Congers only bond to be put forth? Maybe that is the question we all should be asking ourselves. With the Super's recommendation presented last night people in this community would be crazy to ever support this bond because down the road their children could potentially be re districted elsewhere...who knows.
Overtaxed January 10, 2014 at 08:37 PM
The vote needs to be postponed. Period...
Clarkstown Dad January 10, 2014 at 09:46 PM
I want the bond to move forward and hopefully fail. It only makes sense from a fiscal standpoint based on what info has already been presented .... declining enrollment, dramatic budget shortfall, Congers Elem has lowest enrollment of any school & needs the most work. Even the NYS has said they would not agree to assist (55%) based on the fact there is no need for this building. ...... or as I pointed out before if it passes then we redistrict all of Clarkstown after Congers is fixed .... or partially fix it since bond doesn't come close to covering all that is needed for this 90 year old building.
Jennifer January 11, 2014 at 10:25 AM
Here we go again with the my school/Child is safe mentality. If and when the Congers repair bond does not pass ( .7 cents a day) regardless the board is presenting a larger bond to repair our schools that are in deteriorating condition.(BTW based on the last meeting Congers is going to be motioned to be placed in the larger bond) . Once the larger bond is voted on your schools will be effected. Why? Because certain schools will possibly close or be redistricted base on the demographers findings. Do you honestly think that the BOE is opting to spend money on a demographer just in case the Congers bond passes? Think again. The district is most likely going to re-district regardless of any repair bonds ( Congers or the Larger bond) because whether we keep all or most of our schools open there is a need to re-align the students. Dr. Morton wants a redistrict . And when and if the "proposed plan " which is all it is is a "Proposed plan" possibly does not work again - what do you think will happen to your schools/Children ? Remember Congers offers a special needs program and during the last "plan" the IEP's were not met and children were negatively impacted Everyone needs to stop with the Congers vs. New city - My school will be safe mentality its just not realistic.
Clarkstown Dad January 11, 2014 at 10:51 AM
If in fact he has an idea of redistricting ... good ..... something needs to be done ..... $10 Mill shortfall ...... should we just keep spending ..... what are your plans for the shortfall? Make us the highest taxed district in the Nation? Do we keep Congers open and spend about $8 Mill on the building ..... keep the class sizes at about 12-14 kids while others are much higher ..... maintain the entire staff in the district with contracts coming due in about 2 years. All I hear from people here is how we shouldn't change and just keep spending ..... Oh yeah there was the one person who said I should just move. PS Congers housed the special needs for a large portion of district simple because it had the lowest population of regular children .... ie it already is way underutilized .... it can be placed in another location .... and if you knew more of the real story you would know why the IEPs were an issue
Disgusted ClarkstownRES January 11, 2014 at 04:50 PM
Jennifer...not sure where your information comes from but it seems very far fetched to me!!! Based on the recommendation it seemed quite clear that only if the bond passes there will be a more vast redistricting as it should be. If the bond passes and this BOE doesn't move children into that building that would be a total waste of our tax dollar. I'm sure the Congers community did not think they were going to get their building fixed and then leave it at 12-15 children/class while other buildings are busting at the seams...did they??? If the bond does not passed it seemed as though the BOE would close the building and move the children into 2 other buildings...again like I keep saying and will continue to say...6.5 million dollars, 200 children easily placed in other buildings, no state aid currently, 1.250 million in savings, additional $26 increase in my taxes...which by the way is very misleading....that number is only if your housed is assessed at a certain number...if your housed is valued at a higher assessed value it will be way more than $26 and will impact your tax bill each subsequent year...money and taxes I just can not afford any longer...and again for what....
New City Madonna January 11, 2014 at 05:58 PM
Jennifer, this is the first I am hearing of a district wide bond if the Congers bond fails. Then Congers will be included in the larger bond? Jennifer, how did you arrive at this conclusion from what was said at the last meeting?
Jennifer January 11, 2014 at 06:21 PM
When the people during comments asked to withdraw the bond vote for Feb and instead include it in one large bond vote once the numbers are finalized and the demography reports are done. The board member responded by stating that he does not wish to withdraw the bond vote for Feb for Congers only because he hopes it passes and he then said, if and when it does not pass we will motion to place the repairs of Congers school into the larger bond for the district wide repairs. On Monday if you log into the Clarkstown Board of Ed website you can have the ability to watch the meeting in the archived videos. If you watch it to the end that is where the board comments are made and this information is given.
Disgusted ClarkstownRES January 11, 2014 at 08:36 PM
Jennifer...you state "the board member", so, you mean 1 member thinks that way...what about the other 6?...who is to say the other members feel or think that way and what about the community? Do you really think this community will continue to give Congers the chance to have the building fixed? If they voted NO for it the first time who is to say they will not continue to vote NO even with the other buildings included?
Jennifer January 11, 2014 at 09:16 PM
No I do not mean 1 member thinks that way I meant 1 member said it during the time allowed for the board to respond to the crowds questions. Therefore once the larger bond amount is determined (costs and schools) we will all find out and vote. Fact: our schools are falling apart one by one mostly because of faulty roofs, the costs to repair are increasing every day we ignore the obvious. It’s like putting a band aid on leak eventually it will burst… So when the buckets currently being used to catch the water leaking from our school roofs onto our children (that's safe) are no longer good enough and the conditions become inhabitable and there are no bonds in place to repair our schools because of fear of tax increases. What is left to do? ………. If we keep turning down bonds to repair our schools then the cost will continue to rise to repair - taxes will go up even more - more schools will shut down, how many catholic schools can we afford to rent? . Do you have any idea the negative effect is has on our property values? We need to repair our Community schools, the demographer we hired will do a fine job on directing our BOE on how to redistrict ALL of Clarkstown which will reduce the number of classrooms. We have been voting down bonds for too long and now we are running out of options. If you vote no to a larger bond because Congers is in it then I feel you are making a very large mistake. Unfortunatley our taxes are going to go up do you honestly think I want mine to? ……..But you need to determine which is the lesser of the two evils voting yes and paying more or voting no and paying a lot more in the near future when more schools possibly will close from lack of repairs causing our home values to plummet.
Charles Clewsow January 11, 2014 at 10:58 PM
Z...not ranting , just stating the facts that when parents put their kids in a Day Care THEY. have to pay for their STANDARDS are a lot lower than when taxpayers are footing the bill. The State requirements for a Day Care are so minimal as to be ridiculous. A person owning a High Ranch can run a Day Care for 12-14 kids with a couple of teenagers watching them. That seems to be OK for a lot of parents but when they go to taxpayer funded school, they all of a sudden have these high standards. It is hypocritical.
Charles Clewsow January 11, 2014 at 11:03 PM
Jennifer you said " Do you have any idea the negative effect is has on our property values? "....Property values are declining because of the high taxes. If it were not for our Region having some of the highest real estate taxes, sales would be through the roof. However if you purchase a home in CLARKSTOWN. with a tax bill of $12,000 it is the equivalent to paying off another $210,000 mortgage. Put another way, if you buy a home for $500,000 with $100,000 down and finance the $400,000 balance over 30 years at 4%, your payments, including real estate taxes, is the equivalent to paying off a mortgage of $610, 000 for A $500,000 home.
Jennifer January 12, 2014 at 09:02 AM
Charles - sadly our taxes are out of control but you need to ask yourself would repeatedly voting down bonds to repair our schools be the right choice? I will say it again the cost will continue to rise and more schools will close. If you couple our already high taxes with even larger bonds needed in the future, and more school closures that would negatively impact the values of our home far further than what we see now.
Clarkstown Dad January 12, 2014 at 09:21 AM
All seem to be making logical arguments, per se. However we obviously need to be more mindful of $ being spent. Luckily enrollment is down from this standpoint and we have the ability to close a school or two to help in this effort. It seems only logical to take the oldest building, with the lowest enrollment, with the highest need for repair and close it. Unfortunately there is a minority population who think (or are trying to get all to think) Congers is this "Norman Rockwell" hamlet of the good old days that must be saved ..... sorry it is not. Yes, the next step is to start fixing up the other buildings and that likely will mean a bond for those that we cannot afford to close.
Charles Clewsow January 12, 2014 at 09:29 AM
Jennifer, this bond issue for Congers is the only one on the table. We will deal with future requests for taxpayer money when they arise. This bond is premature and unnecessary. It should and I think will be voted down. We need givebacks from school employees tof fund repairs since in numerous past years of 6-7% tax increases all the money went to school employees instead of roof repairs. Now we need to get that money back to do the right thing. WHY? Because Seniors cannot afford it.
Charles Clewsow January 12, 2014 at 09:31 AM
How any young families can afford to pay the equivalent of $710,000 for a $500,000 house?
New City Madonna January 12, 2014 at 01:46 PM
Jennifer, why would trustees withdraw this bond? If you remember correctly, it was all about repairing all our buildings with a price tag of 25 million. When the Board voted that down for whatever reason trustees then decided, oh well we tried for the other schools but this is really about 1 thing, saving Congers. How silly and short sided of those trustees. If this bond doesn't pass then the community has now made that decision...also who is to say this Board will approve a larger bond to include Congers in the future? They didn't do it 2 months ago.
Kevin Roy January 14, 2014 at 10:24 PM
I've now watched the last two board meetings. How one board member doesn't have the courage or foresight to motion to cancel this vote makes me even more concerned about the long-term prospects for our school district. The board eventually decided on this without all the information and now they're asking us to vote without all the information. Regardless of the outcome, neither result is in the best interest of the school district.
Mike Hirsch January 14, 2014 at 11:32 PM
I am getting a little tired of people criticizing various board members. If you don't like certain decisions or actions of a board member, criticize the decision or the action, not the person. These people are VOLUNTEERS who you elected. They are putting in a lot of hours and are trying to do what they think is best for the community, unlike most of the professional politicians who run our town who are more interested in keeping their jobs rather than governing responsibly. The current school board has involved the community to the best of their ability and will abide by the vote results. Democracy is a messy process, but to me, it is preferable to the politburo style of decision making of our town government.
Mike Hirsch January 15, 2014 at 03:49 PM
I agree with you Old Townie. The sky didn't fall when those two schools closed and it will not fall when hopefully the Congers School closes. It is clear that we need to close a school or two because of declining enrollment and the financial imperative. Congers makes the most sense. Why spend 6 million of money that we don't have? The property can be put to good use and increase our tax base at the same time.
Disgusted ClarkstownRES January 15, 2014 at 05:06 PM
What I still do not seem to understand is, our property values have been declining over the past several years because of the economy, even when all of our school buildings were open. Just because the fate of this building is in question our property values are going to decline even more?? I think it is not just 1 factor but many that incorporate driving down values. It seems as though there isn't enough support for this bond based on what I have been reading from the rest of the community...maybe thats because taxpayers and community members are looking at this logically and not with emotion...enrollment is declining, children are still in Clarkstown facilities, the building needs 6.5 million dollars in repairs and we reduce our expenses by 1.25 million year after year. This should really be a no brainer. I have heard of other schools closing around the county due to low enrollment...so I guess their values are decreasing as well. If that's the case then how can anyone state that values are increasing??? Still just very confused...I think people just want to have their cake and eat it too and sometimes that just is not possible. Again like others have said we have closed buildings in this district before and moved children around and people still continues to move here....
ADK January 15, 2014 at 05:32 PM
Although I don't know Mr Rand, I respect his opinion and Real Estate knowledge, however the history of Clarkstown Schools suggest that he is incorrect...Street School, which has been closed for some time is in the "general" neighborhood of the highest priced homes in the area...there was no drop off when it closed, in fact, housing prices and the price for new homes in that area approach or exceed a million dollars. People who will buy homes AFTER the closure of a school are the least affected...they have no history with the school...luckily, our District is relatively compact...the distance one will travel to a school is not overly taxing...(new city elementary from Congers elementary is about a 5 minute drive...Lakewood even less)...at one time we had 13,000 students...we now have approx 9000, we "survived" the closure of Street school, Chestnut Grove and Birchwood as a general purpose elementary school without suffering property value erosion. We simply do not have now, and won't for the foreseeable future (if ever) the student population to support all these buildings...it's why NYS rejected the funding for Congers...one may argue that a different school should be contracted...if that is supported by the various studies being done, and it makes more sense to "fix" Congers (admittedly unlikely) then that plan should be considered...it's why this bond is very much "ready, fire, aim". Lets spend the time and attention required for a decision of this magnitude...suspend the bond vote, keep the students at St Augustine's for one more year (it's the right thing to do) and then choose the plan that is supported by facts, not emotion.
Christian Jauntig January 15, 2014 at 11:06 PM
I just want to make a correction, we will not be saving 1.5 million year after year. Money will still be spent although reduced for maintenance, utility, and security. Also if the bond fails we will be paying at least $60,000 to secure the wall
Disgusted ClarkstownRES January 16, 2014 at 06:58 AM
Christian...the 1.5 million in savings comes from the reduction in staff so that money would reduce the budget year after year unless we decide to hire back that amount of staff...so that reduction does come from the bottom line of our budget. The $60K is a 1 time expense, that is not an expense that is paid out yearly....that was the point I was attempting to make. Bottom line is we need to reduce our budget (decrease expenses), consolidate our schools, which by the way has been discussed for several years, and continue to give our children a quality education. Going over numbers this seems like a logical solution because all the children can be housed in these other 2 buildings, this building is 90+ years old and needs extensive repair. That's all I'm saying
Christian Jauntig January 16, 2014 at 07:22 AM
If no money at all is paid to Congers School (lets pretend for this post it doesnt exist) and we add the staff cuts that were discussed into the expenses of the building, We are still left with 99.34% of the budget. That is not even 1% of our budget in "savings" (i say that because cutting staff is not considered saving to me)
One love March 06, 2014 at 12:33 AM
So quiet lately. Amazing. Congrats to my fellow Clarkstown Residents for getting the YES vote out There. It was amazing and I know we have the power to make a difference. And we will! Power in numbers!!

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