The Mineola School District unveiled its five-year capital improvement plan on Thursday at a special meeting of the board of education. Though the plan is just a concept right now, it is clear from the presentation that the district's schools have significant needs. The question is what will a community that rejected the proposed 2003-2004 budget twice last year be able to afford.
"What we hear from the community is going to tell us how we approach this," said Superintendent of Schools for the Mineola School District Dr. Lorenzo Licopoli.
The community sent a message last spring when it voted down the district's budget twice, causing the board to adopt a contingency budget.
However, while it remains to be seen what capital improvements the community is willing to support, the district's schools are in need of basic improvements that aren't going away.
From outdated water fountains to worn auditorium seats to the need to replace windows and doors, the Mineola School District has found some of its schools in need of repair and preventive maintenance. The absence of a capital improvement plan has caused a significant list of needed items to mount so much so that a future referendum may be inevitable.
In November 2002, Dr. Licopoli recommended to the board of education a five-year capital improvement plan because no plan was in place; there was no plan for preventive maintenance, no plan for full compliance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA); buildings are in need of various stages of needed repair on infrastructure items; much of the previous work was not done in compliance with state regulations.
"We tried to address facility issues [in the past] in a haphazard way. It's like if you own a house and you don't keep it up, you end up with a huge bill you have to take care of. That's what happened to us," Dr. Licopoli said.
In June, following the budget vote, the district plans to organize collaborative work teams to work with the architect, Dodge, Chamberlin, Luzine and Weber (DCLW).
Here is the outline of the district's five-year capital plan with each item needed and the estimated cost. Dr. Licopoli made it clear however that these items were not set in stone:
Mineola High School
* Ensure building is ADA compliant (improve/install ADA drinking fountains on each floor) - $50,000
* Renovate/restore infrastructure areas (exterior window wall, windows and doors, entrance way, exterior masonry, locker rooms, brick, lobby entrance, area ways, interior doors, ceiling and floor replacement, cafeteria walls, window treatments - $2,160,000
* Bring building up to code regarding security and safety standards (add perimeter security system with door access, motion detectors and closed circuit television, exterior perimeter lighting, add fire and smoke detection in accordance with ADA) - $685,000
* Provide school-based location for varsity sports (build football/track stadium and baseball/softball fields, reorganize field usage, renovate/replace locker rooms, coach and team rooms, improve parking arrangement) - $2,550,000.
* Provide a district-wide performing arts center (replace seating, upgrade/replace lighting, add stage lighting, replace stage floor, sound/light booth, carpeting, curtains, air conditioning) - $1,275,000.
* Create more space for field use, revise parking and ADA parking (improve field usage and parking, convert tennis courts into parking lot, repair all asphalt roads and parking areas, improve front of school) - $885,000.
Mineola Middle School
* Improve/replace/renovate exterior windows, roofing, bring building up to code, repair masonry code (exterior window and door replacement, exterior masonry, replace interior doors with State Education Department-approved, repair limestone) - $747,000.
* Improve all areas of building security and safety (add perimeter security and intrusion system, exterior lighting, fire and smoke detection, upgrade all electrical systems) - $540,000.
* Develop area for team teaching with classroom clusters for grades 6, 7 and 8 conducive to middle level education, improve and upgrade labs
* Improve access and safety to and from building, improve circulation and meet state standards. Currently, students and vehicles are crossing over the same lanes, vehicles are parked too close to the building and maximum field usage is blocked by a parking lot. The plan calls for a main entrance in front of the school and access to the front of the school perhaps with a bus loop off Emory Road - $300,000.
Cross Street School
* Ensure building is ADA compliant (upgrade toilets and sinks to ADA standards) - $160,000.
* Exterior window and door replacement as well as repairs to the exterior masonry - $455,000.
* Improve building security (add perimeter lighting, add perimeter security and replace fire and smoke detection) - $520,000.
* Move main office to front entrance of building, build conference room in current main office - $188,000.
Hampton Street School
* Improve accessibility and make building ADA compliant (revise ADA plan and upgrade bathrooms, toilets and sinks to ADA standards) - $160,000
* Repair exterior masonry - $75,000.
* Improve security with perimeter security system, exterior lighting and fire and smoke detection - $250,000.
* Move main office near front entrance to improve visibility and access to main office - $55,000.
Jackson Avenue School
* Ensure Jackson meets ADA compliance standards (revise ADA compliance standards, ADA accessible toilets, ADA parking spaces) - $165,000.
* Replace/repair exterior woodwork, windows, doors and stairs. Repair exterior masonry - $493,000.
* Improve building safety and security needs (new public address system, perimeter security, exterior lighting, electrical) - $310,000.
Meadow Drive School
* Make building fully ADA compliant by upgrading ADA parking, providing accessible toilets and sinks - $52,000.
* Repair electrical system, repair exterior masonry, ceiling replacement in some areas where needed and raising ceilings in two sections where ceilings are low - $595,000.
* Improve safety and security of building with perimeter security system, exterior lighting, electrical service - $195,000.
* Improve main entrance, lobby and principal's office to make school more welcoming to the community (renovate building entrance, provide ADA toilets) - $75,000.
District Buildings and Grounds
* Bring to compliance parking of vehicles and provide work area for grounds and staff (extend parking at bus garage, construct work area/office space for buildings and grounds) - $715,000.
The estimated cost of the five-year capital plan is $17,239,950. It is believed that the projects will be funded through another bond referendum, if the public were to approve one. In addition, the district will begin in the 2004-2005 school year to add at least $500,000 each year to the budget to be dedicated to capital needs.
Last year's budget failures did not breed confidence that the community will support additional expenditures, even if those expenditures are being proposed to address issues that have been ignored for years.
While Dr. Licopoli called Thursday's proposal a preliminary report that at best would act as a starting point, the district's focus is on the 2004-2005 educational plan and budget.
"Last year, we went out twice with a budget and it failed. We felt we had a good educational plan and budget to advance. This year, we are going to have to do even a better job so obviously our energy will be on the 2004-2005 educational plan and budget," Dr. Licopoli said.
Last year, there wasn't much difference between the proposed budget and the contingency budget that was adopted by the board. However, this upcoming budget vote figures to be more critical.
"Last year we were very lucky insofar as that we made some fairly significant reductions on the expense side of the budget. This year, we don't have that luxury," Dr. Licopoli said. "If we do have a budget failure and we go into a contingency budget, we would need to make some significant reductions in expenses."
The superintendent estimates that the district would have to cut $2 million from the budget if it were to fail in May.