Sag School Board Dusts Off Capital Project Plans


By Amanda Wyatt

Plans for Sag Harbor School District’s capital project proposal — an initiative to tackle maintenance and building projects within the school district, that some say have been pushed to the backburner for too long — were resurrected at Monday night’s board of education (BOE) meeting.

Larry Salvesen of the architectural firm Burton, Behrendt & Smith addressed the board and members of the community on revised plans for improving the district’s buildings and grounds. Salvesen’s presentation took place on September 24, a year since he last addressed the BOE on the project.

This year, there are approximately 121 items included in the capital project list, which seeks to make improvements in building integrity, code compliance, health and safety, and energy conservation.

BOE Vice President Chris Tice said the school’s facilities have been neglected for too long. She urged her fellow board members to take swift action to move ahead with the project.

“Our buildings are in desperate need of some really basic maintenance,” she said. “We have areas that aren’t safe, and they don’t get safer if you leave them alone. It’s like a cavity in your mouth doesn’t get smaller if you don’t fill it.”

Salvesen agreed.

“Deteriorating conditions begin to accelerate over time. You have deteriorated conditions that have sat for years and need to be addressed,” he pointed out.

“This is so much more than anything cosmetic,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso. “You’re talking about air quality, you’re talking about safety, you’re talking about saving energy and money, frankly.”

The capital project program includes architectural improvements, such as kitchen expansion, window and flooring replacements and a partial roof replacement. The plan also involves the replacement of deteriorated walkways and asphalt areas, as well as the main entry plaza.

Ventilation improvements, the installation of carbon dioxide sensors, as well as the installation of energy-efficient electrical motors, drives and transformers are also on the plate.

The capital project plans would require a bond of $4,438,402, which is some $2 million dollars less than the project that was originally proposed. After the community voted against the district’s request for a $6,724,087 bond in December 2009, school administrators and the Long Range Planning Committee made a number of reductions to the proposal.

The fall 2012 capital project proposal includes $3,745,902 for the cost of basic repairs and $692,500 for reconstructing and expanding the Hampton Street and Jermain Avenue parking lots. Salvesen explained that the goal of the parking lot project is not simply to increase the number of parking spaces, but to also improve deteriorating conditions in the lot. The project also aims to increase traffic safety and maneuverability.

For example, the proposed Jermain Avenue lot is set back slightly from the street, with a landscaped island separating it from the main road. This would prevent cars from backing out directly onto the road and, possibly, into oncoming traffic.

Salvesen also presented two separate, supplemental propositions, which are not included in the capital project proposal. The first is the creation of a $1,620,000 synthetic turf field and a two-lane rubberized walking/jogging track. An additional $675,000 would be used for the installation of stadium-style lighting, so that students could use this new field in the evening.

With the supplemental propositions added to the cost of the Capital Project, the potential total would be $6,733,402. This figure is just slightly higher than the Capital Project of 2009’s total of $6,724,087.

President Theresa Samot suggested discussing the proposal with the school’s Long Range Planning Committee. Once these discussions have taken place, the BOE will present the committee’s recommendations at its next meeting in November.

If a decision is made, the district will put the proposed amount of money up for bond, and the community can vote on whether or not to approve the amount. However, the BOE said, a vote to approve the proposed bond would probably not take place until at least the early spring, and repairs would not begin until summer.



  1. I must be sheltered, isolated, but can someone tell me, when did ‘maintenance’ expenses become capital expenditures? I would love to know, but it seems that since the 2% property tax cap came about, all sorts of things are now capital expenditures! Last year, all of a sudden, the district thought they could save millions by running their own buses–they neglected to say, they would do it by transferring operating, rental expenses, into capital expenditures that are bonded and not bound by the cap.

    The district didn’t argue that they could transport kids less expensively than sub-contractors, but they could “save” if they could take the transportation expenses paid to outside bus companies, and morph them into capital expenses, not bound by the 2% cap.

    Its easier to do this when the district doesn’t publish a balance sheet, informing the public of how much money it owes, and how much refinancing risk the public is taking.

  2. Oh, and for the $693,000 of capital expenditures to improve the parking lots, how much is that per parking space? (Hint: more than you want to know). And why should the district pay for free parking for the teachers and the students? If it costs thousands of dollars for each parking space, perhaps they should pay $5 a day to park? And maybe then, there wouldn’t be quite so much demand for parking spaces. The teachers are well-paid, they can afford it! How many of them make more than $100,000 per year?