East Williston Board of Education outlines upcoming capital projects

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East Williston's Board of Education discussed upcoming capital projects during a March 22 meeting. (Photo courtesy of East Williston Union Free School District)

During its fourth and final budget workshop for the 2021-22 school year, East Williston’s Board of Education reviewed ongoing and upcoming capital projects for the district’s schools. The $63,755,174 budget for 2021-22, which the board approved at the March 22 meeting, includes a $6.81 million to fund these projects.

The budget is 1.05 percent higher than the $63,091,128 budget for 2020–21 and comes with a property tax levy increase of 1.67 percent. However, the capital component, which makes up 10.67 percent of the total budget, has decreased from the current year as the success of renovations has brought down the cost of utilities in the budget by $32,000.

Joseph Piscopia, a member of the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee, gave a detailed presentation on the district’s plans for capital projects at the start of the meeting. He said that administrators will continue to take a proactive approach to maintaining the district’s facilities.

“As in years past, we strongly recommend that the administration proactively address minor maintenance issues as they arise,” Piscopia explained. “Doing so is virtually always more cost-effective than not addressing these issues when they occur, as they inevitably evolve into larger, more involved and more costly projects. This approach ultimately results in fewer repairs and longer service life for buildings and physical plants.”

Piscopia outlined a multitude of current and future projects taking place throughout the district. Districtwide ongoing projects include the installation of a new security camera platform, as well as upgrades to lockdown systems and security alarm systems. The in-progress updates are primarily security-oriented, such as upgrading analog cameras to digital and replacing classroom doors to add swipe access controls. Looking ahead, the committee is planning districtwide bathroom upgrades as well, including the installation of new epoxy floor and wall coatings, fixture replacements and privacy divider replacements.

Projects are in progress at each of the district’s schools, such as the installation of a new irrigation system to the fields at Northside School and the addition of new sidewalks from the parking lot at Willets Road School. Some projects have been completed recently at the Wheatley School, including the installation of a new gymnasium floor and replacement of the turf on the baseball field.

Some upcoming renovations for each of the schools were announced as well. The committee is planning upgrades to the HPAC systems at Northside School, and a boiler is set to be replaced at Willets Road School. The existing boiler is 35 years old and may cause increased maintenance costs as it approaches the end of its service life, Piscopia said. 

At the Wheatley School, vestibule renovations are planned, along with upgrades to the baseball and softball scoreboards and the construction of field bathrooms. 

The district’s assistant superintendent for business, Diane Castonguay, said that the upcoming projects are already funded, making up about $1.1 million of anticipated spending. Piscopia expressed his confidence in the plans and the district’s management of the projects’ funding. 

“The committee is pleased with the continued commitment and attention given to the district’s buildings and grounds. With proper planning, we believe the district is adequately and professionally handling its facilities,” Piscopia said. “With proper budgeting and the ability to fund reserves for future projects, the district is well-positioned moving forward.”

Mark Kamberg, president of the school board, voiced his approval of the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee’s proposals, praising their efficiency with both time and costs.

“This committee has really come a long way and has done some tremendous work,” Kamberg said. “We worked hard together with this committee and with the Financial Advisory Committee to really budget wisely, create these reserves, move away from the bonds that cost the taxpayers so much money. The proof is in the work that continues to get done, and we’re really up to date on all of our projects.” 

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