Just recently, the Blind Brook community consented to a tax increase to fund ongoing renovations at the Bruno M. Ponterio Ridge Street School. The voting took place on December 21st at Blind Brook High School. From a total of 805 voters, 616 voters (79.5%) agreed to the additional tax increase, while 189 (20.5%) disagreed.
As a result, the average annual school tax will increase by less than 1%, becoming a net increase of $124 dollars over the next few of school years. This temporary increase will decline by 2025-2026, as the overall debt payments decrease.
The proposal of modernizing and innovating the district was initially approved by voters in 2017. The district disclosed that an additional $4.7 to $6 million dollars was needed to complete the enhancements to the elementary school and build it to its highest potential. The district wants its intentions to be clear: they want the smallest amount of debt and for no money to be taken away from the childrens’ education.
The Board of Education stated that without the tax increase being approved, there would not be enough money to complete the project. The construction would have to come to a halt, leaving an unfinished cafetorium. The cafetorium is a large expansive space that can be used as both an auditorium and a cafeteria. The retractable seat feature will allow up to 350 students to all be together in one area. In addition, students will be given more nutritional lunch options due to a larger and more advanced kitchen. Students will also be provided more opportunities to perform on stage and be collectively present in a large-group setting.
Phases 1 and 2 of the construction project have already been completed. The last phases consist of completing the cafetorium, courtyard, and remaining structures. The plan is to complete this all before the 2022-2023 school year starts in the Fall.
The amount of funding required for this project has increased from the beginning to now due to architectural changes that have occurred which total $5 million. Also, more architectural and legal services were necessary. Details about these change orders can be found on the district website.
According to the school district, the construction must be completed at this present time for a variety of reasons. If the construction was pushed to a future date, the cost would increase for taxpayers. Reinspections and reinforcements would not only be needed, but overall inflation and rising interest rates would ultimately impact the grand sum.
The facilities committee has been reinstated, with a total of 17 community volunteers divided up into different groups covering various aspects of the construction project. This committee meets weekly to discuss finances and communications/community relations. The district is hopeful that they will receive New York State Building Aid to offset taxpayers expenses.
The construction at the BMP RIdge Street School has been a long and strenuous process, and many people in the Blind Brook community are eager to see the finished product. Aside from the finance perspective, the ultimate goal is to create a safe learning environment for children where they will thrive, live to their greatest potential, and feel comfortable with their peers/teachers. A positive and encouraging ambience is pivotal for future education here in Blind Brook.