Residents of the Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District are invited to attend a series of virtual town halls regarding Phase One of a proposed capital project to be voted on next month.

The presentation, “Learn Forward: A Campus Modernization Plan,” will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, and at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19,  at schopeg.com/livestream.htm

Questions or public comments about the capital project can be emailed to information@crcsd.org with “town hall” in the subject line. Submissions are encouraged in advance, but emails will be monitored during the meeting, according to the district.

The first phase of the proposed capital project includes plans to update infrastructure at all four district buildings, renovate the greenhouse and agriculture wing and create new “maker spaces” at both Radez and Ryder elementary schools for science, engineering and technology classes, according to a media release.

“The improvements to these learning spaces would help us maintain a rich, rigorous curriculum for our students, especially in the areas of agriculture, science and technology,” said district Superintendent Carl J. Mummenthey. “We submit this proposal to voters asking that we may complete necessary upgrades to our physical spaces and enhance learning opportunities for students in these emerging fields.”

District residents can vote on the $14.1 million first phase of the project Wednesday, Feb. 3, by absentee ballot or in-person at the high school from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Absentee ballots can be requested by contacting the district office at 518-234-4032.

Phase One is not expected to raise the property tax levy, according to the release. Up to 82.5% of the project costs are expected to be covered by state aid. The project, slated to begin by summer 2022 if approved, will occur at the same time the district is expected to retire some of its debt service, namely principal and interest payments.

The second and third phases of the proposed capital project will be put to a referendum in 2022 and 2024, respectively.

“Given the high degree of economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, we believe separating this project into smaller phases helps us maintain flexibility and minimize the impact on taxpayers,” Mummenthey said. “Because we are retiring some other debt in the coming years, we can complete this work without any additional burden on our district’s taxpayers.”

“The average age of our schools is 66 years old, and some of our infrastructure, including heating and cooling systems, already have surpassed their expected useful lives,” he continued. “By proposing to voters that we invest in our infrastructure now, we hope to avoid even more costly repairs in the future — or, worse, a total system failure.”

Visit the capital project page at crcsd.org for more information about the multiphase project, including the scope of work, how to request an absentee ballot and other details on voting.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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