Poughkeepsie District Suspends $ 100 Million Investment Project

Poughkeepsie City School District leaders are expected to spend this week briefing voters on its $ 100 million capital project ahead of the May 19 school vote.

But, amid the coronavirus pandemic, elections have been postponed until next month. The neighborhood is struggling with financial difficulties. And the project will now have to wait.

Superintendent Eric Rosser said the project would not appear on the ballot that residents will receive in the mail before the voting deadline for the June 9 social distance election. Rosser said the proposal would be pushed back to at least the fall, and possibly longer.

“We were initially discussing the drop, but we also indicated that it would depend on a number of variables at this point,” Rosser said. “We don’t know what the fiscal landscape will look like in terms of economics and of course we are very attentive to our community and don’t want to add anything more to our community when it comes to capital improvement. Project.”

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The project presented in early February gave voters the choice between two proposals. The first involved $ 51 million in improvements to safety, security and infrastructure needs.

The second proposal, a request for $ 100 million, included upgrades from the first proposal as well as a “major” school overhaul:

  • Smith School would receive a new literary center, a renovated cafeteria and renovated classrooms.
  • Clinton Elementary School would receive new technology programs and various security and infrastructure upgrades.
  • Krieger Elementary School would get new performing arts space as well as gymnasium floor restorations and classroom renovations.
  • Morse Elementary School would see a new art studio space and Warring Elementary would have a new space for medical programming, along with renovated hallways.
  • Poughkeepsie Middle School would get an upgraded cafeteria as well as new auditorium seats and various other upgrades throughout the building.
  • At Poughkeepsie High School, hallways would be renovated, the auditorium stage would be restored, and a collaborative space would be added.

Rosser said the plans proposed before the pandemic will be adapted when Governor Andrew Cuomo shares the protocols that schools will have to follow when students return to class.

The ballot that will be returned by June 9 will include the proposed school budget and the choice of three candidates to fill two seats on the school board, Rosser said. Districts have until May 21 to vote on a budget proposal.

Without the project on the ballot, Rosser said any renovations that can’t wait will have to be covered from the general maintenance fund.

The district was already trying to solve a multi-million dollar budget deficit created by declining state aid, loss of construction aid, rising operating costs and other financial obligations. Some of these losses, but not all, are linked to the hardships created by the coronavirus pandemic.

As the deficit started out as a $ 3.5 million gap, Rosser said the district’s latest budget proposal reduced the deficit to $ 1.8 million. At the end of April, Rosser proposed to the district to cut 48 positions, including teachers, administrators and support staff, in order to reduce the deficit. He noted that some of the positions are already vacant due to retirements or other transitions.

“There is still a lot of work that we need to do. We are working diligently to identify ways to overhaul and rethink education,” Rosser said at a town hall Thursday. “(We think about) the ways we have done things in the past and how we can do things differently to be profitable in our business.”

Katelyn Cordero: [email protected]; 845-437-4870; Twitter: @KatelynCordero.

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