Shen gears up for Dec. 5 vote

A sign outside the Shenendehowa main campus advertising the  vote.

KASSIE PARISI/GAZETTE REPORTERA sign outside the Shenendehowa main campus advertising the vote. KASSIE PARISI/GAZETTE REPORTER

CLIFTON PARK —  In less than a month, residents the Shenendehowa Central School District will hold a referendum on both a possible land sale to the Town of Clifton Park, as well as on the district’s proposed capital project.

On Tuesday, Dec. 5, district residents will be able to vote from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the gymnasium at Gowana Middle School on the two propositions.

This is the second vote the district is holding over the sale of the wooded 34-acre parcel of land adjacent to Shatekon Elementary School. In April, the district tried to sell the land to BBL Construction but when that resolution went to voters, it was voted down 5,442 to 2,323.

After months of back and forth, the town and district sealed a new deal with the town for a $1.1 million dollar agreement in October.

The new agreement includes the stipulation that the land must be for public use and cannot be transferred, sold, or otherwise conveyed for non-public (commercial use).

If approved, the resulting funds to the district will go into a reserve to purchase land for future use, potentially in the town of Halfmoon.

Also up for a vote is the possible advancement of Shen’s capital project.

“Shen has a long-term, strategic capital plan, identifying needs to maintain and improve facilities over the next 10 years,” the district said in a statement. “There are currently extensive delays in the state approval process of capital projects. The referendum approved in 2016, which included the high school library project, is still pending approval from the state moving the start of construction back to the summer of 2018.

Recognizing that the time delay between voter approval, design, state approval and construction is approximately 18 to 24 months, the district is proposing a $22 million Capital Project with the anticipation that it would not be under construction until 2019 or 2020.”

The project will be partly funded through the Smart Schools Bond Act, funds from the district’s Capital Reserve Fund and state building aid. The estimated impact on the tax rate is 0.4 percent over 15 years. It is estimated that a home assessed at $250,000 will pay an additional $18 per year.

The capital project includes:

  • Transformation of existing technology classes at the high school to create a STEM wing. The current technology wing includes very traditional, technology-shop style classrooms that date back decades. As technology evolves, so do the marketplace demands. As a school district our goal is to provide modern, forward-thinking programs that address the emerging needs.
  • Renovation of high school science classrooms to create Next Generation Science labs and instructional spaces. Currently, state and national science curriculums are going through a transformation. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are kindergarten through grade 12 science content standards that were developed by states to create a set of research-based, rich in content and practice kindergarten through grade 12 science standards.
    Similar to the technology classrooms, the science classrooms in the high school are very traditional. This project will transform them into multi-purpose (usable for all sciences – physics, chemistry, biology) spaces that support inquiry-based, experimental and creative lessons in which students can engage in true scientific exploration.
  • Integration of instructional technology. This project will leverage the Smart Schools Bond Act funding to extend beyond simple one-time purchases. Instead, the district will use it to enhance our technology infrastructure, benefitting both instruction and operations across the school district within the parameters of the law. District officials want to improve technology infrastructure, hardware and software capacity, with more future-oriented systems to provide a diversity of course options and functionalities (i.e. coding, animation, 3-D printing, integrated security, asynchronous communications).
  • Installation of an emergency generator at the bus garage. This will ensure that the transportation department has essential services backed up and will be able to communicate with buses en route during an emergency power outage.
  • Continuation of the ongoing efforts to maintain roadways and parking lots rather than waiting for complete erosion which is much more costly.
  • Upgrades to the high school and middle school kitchens. District officials also want to improve efficiency of providing food to students (i.e. improving the lunch lines, ensuring that the time allotted for lunch is maximized). The kitchens that produce thousands of meals each year need to be furnished with appropriate and safe equipment.
  • Improve traffic flow on campus. Traffic is a perennial issue, particularly during the morning and afternoon. Last year, the district conducted a traffic study to develop ways to improve campus traffic. This project will address components of the study, in areas that are most critical to safety, notably the entrance at Route 146 and the drop off/parking areas at the high school. The goal is to alleviate some of the traffic even while recognizing that there will still be pinch points.

You are eligible to vote if you are a U.S. citizen, 18 years or older and have been a Shenendehowa district resident for at least 30 days prior to the vote.

No preregistration is required but official personal identification with photo is required at the polls.

Absentee ballots may be used by any resident who will not be available to come to the campus to vote. They are available at the district office,5 Chelsea Place in Clifton Park. For information, call the district clerk at (518) 881-0623. By law, absentee ballots are mailed to any resident who is disabled.

Ballots must be returned to the district clerk no later than 5 p.m. on Dec. 5, 2017