Valley Central Considers Revote on Bond Project
The Valley Central School District Administration discussed scenarios for a possible revote on the Traffic, Safety, and STEAM Bond Project at the BOE meeting held on September 9, 2019.
The feedback from the ThoughtExchange forum was taken into consideration by the Administration informing those scenarios. Superintendent John Xanthis has taken responsibility for the brevity of time that was given to the first vote. He explained that the reasoning behind the shortened time period was to have enough time to get through the approval process at the state level required after the vote in order to break ground on the hs/ms portion of the project in Spring 2020. He also pointed out that many comments were made by the forum respondents that they were away on vacation, or unable to vote because of the threat that resulted in a lock-out situation.
Deputy Superintendent, Michael Bellarosa, said that it was made clear by all respondents that safety needs to be prioritized in any bond vote. Bellarosa further stated that many respondents indicated if the bond had been separated, they would have voted for safety.
Lastly, Bellarosa explained that a lot of anger was expressed regarding the mistake in the information that was mailed out. Xanthis committed to the BOE that there would be no mistakes with information in this attempt and that the goal would be to explain the bond as thoroughly as possible to the community, clearly delineating tax impact. He said that they would go to every group they could and would return with a communications plan for this at the next BOE meeting.
Bellarosa proposed that given the fact that the vote was very close and that safety appears to be of the most importance, that the proposition is put to another vote, but this time that it be separated in two or three propositions. He went on to further propose that the propositions be conditionally arranged to put safety first, followed by the other parts of the original proposal as one or two more propositions that could only be passed if the preceding proposals were passed.
The Board of Education took the recommendation under advisement and asked for specific values to be attached and presented to them at the next BOE meeting from the office of the Interim School Business Official, Brad Conklin. The BOE also requested that the architects be present at the next BOE meeting. The next BOE meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 25.
The earliest the district would be able to put the bond up again for a public vote would be mid-December 2019. The plan would be to break ground on the first phase of the bond project in the Summer of 2020 ahead of the NYS DOT breaking ground on the traffic light installation tentatively proposed for November 2020. The NYS DOT has advised the district this would be the best course of action. It was on that advice that the district acted to try to get the vote through this summer, and is working steadily to try to get the revote up as soon as is allowed by state regulations.
“We have asked for input from the community as we pursue the re-vote on this bond. There were only thirty votes separating the yays and nays and there is overwhelming support for the safety portion which is reassuring. We have learned from the mistakes made and in hindsight, the timing of the vote had an effect on its outcome. We will make sure the community has the correct information to make an informed decision on this project, and we will give them the opportunity to vote for any part of the bond which they support.” stated Superintendent John Xanthis.