Letter to the Editor: In Favor of Briarcliff Manor School District Capital Improvement Project

As members of the Facilities Planning Committee, we feel it imperative that we reach out to the community and urge you to vote YES for the proposed Capital Improvement Project on May 18th at Todd School. We have been observing statements made on social media, answering questions with our neighbors, and having conversations within the community. We appreciate the genuine interest in this incredibly important vote and would like for the community to hear directly from members of the committee.

First, we feel it’s important for the community to understand that we are a diverse committee, comprised of individuals who represent various stakeholders within the school community (teachers, community members who have never had children in the schools, parents of current students, parents of students who have graduated, administration, Board members, the Superintendent, as well as the Assistant Superintendent of Finance & Operations). This final proposal was unanimously agreed upon and presented by all of us to the Board of Education after much research, debate, compromise and expert opinion. While there is so much to be done to improve the facilities (it didn’t take long for all of us to see that we couldn’t address everything and that we had to prioritize the necessities), we focused on identifying the absolute essentials – from an infrastructure perspective, an educational programs perspective, and from a financial impact perspective. These capital efforts are not just essential and past due, they are necessary investments into our community’s most valuable asset – our schools.

Efforts have been made to undermine the passing of the bond proposal and they are not based on facts. We implore you to make your decision based on facts and we hope to clear some of the misleading information that is being circulated.

Concern #1: The cost of the project: $26.6 million is too high.  Some believe that the same results can be achieved at a much lower cost. None of the Facilities Planning Committee members are construction experts, so we relied on experts and comparable projects around us – just as we would for any of our personal projects. $400/ Sq ft is a reasonable price given the scope of the project and our requirements. However, the district is required, by law, to accept the proposal from the lowest qualified bidder. The projects listed within the proposed bond will go through a transparent bidding process.  If in fact we do receive a lower bid, that would be the amount we draw from the approved bond. Just because the bond amount is approved, the district will not use that money for any other project that is not approved as part of the bond. In addition, the district has a proven track record for delivering projects under budget.

Concern #2: This bond will increase the community’s tax burden. This bond will not increase the tax burden and will not reduce the burden either. Property taxes are calculated using various factors but the bottom line is that this project will not impact property taxes. It will keep our District’s debt service equal to the current debt service. This work is key to keeping a roof over our children’s heads and the school doors open. All students and teachers deserve to study and work in safe, secure buildings that are ADA compliant and without leaking roofs and toilets! The situation at the schools has gotten dire. We can no longer neglect the facilities.

Concern #3: The value of the Student Learning Exchange at the High School. There is a perception that this is unnecessary and that it will eliminate essential classrooms. The SLE is a desperately needed update to, and reimagining of, the current 1970s era School.  It will create a connected and functional space aligned with the teaching and learning that we are so proud of in our District.  None of the existing classrooms will be lost, the space will simply be more flexible, dynamic and progressive. This is very much consistent with investments that our neighboring districts have made in their schools.

The Facilities Planning Committee worked transparently and with the utmost integrity keeping both the needs of the district and community in mind. Our schools are desperate for these investments. We hope you will join us in supporting the bond proposal and making it a resounding success. Please do not take it for granted. Vote Yes on May 18th. Please feel free to reach out to any of us if you have questions.

Richard Bloom

Rajaneesh Chandra

Stephanie Conover

Alexis Costanzo

Rain Henderson

Betty Ng-Beckler

Julie Plank

Swaroop Reddy

Carin Savage


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