By Amanda Wyatt
The Bridgehampton Board of Education announced last week that it will hold a special vote in March — two months before the district’s regularly scheduled budget vote — for the creation of a capital reserve fund.
The resolution to establish what is being called the Five-Year Plan Capital Reserve Fund was made after a special board of education meeting this month. During the meeting, the board decided to hold a special district vote to approve the fund.
The vote will take place on Wednesday, March 20 between the hours of 2 and 8 p.m. in the district’s Middle School Building.
In a joint statement, Dr. Lois Favre, district superintendent, and Robert Hauser, business administrator, said the fund will be used to “attend to the $1.3 million in needed repairs and maintenance as outlined in the [district’s] five-year plan.”
In a legal notice, the school said the fund “shall be in an amount not to exceed $1,500,000; that the probable term of the reserve fund shall be ten years; and that the reserve fund shall be funded from unassigned, unappropriated fund balance and unexpended budgetary appropriations during the next seven school years.”
As Dr. Favre and Hauser explained, the funds for the reserve “are monies that have already been collected.” The district is not asking for additional dollars, which means that it will not have any bearing on the state’s two percent tax levy cap that schools and other municipalities are now under.
When asked why the district opted to hold a vote two months before the usual budget vote, Dr. Favre and Hauser explained: “It is important to know that we are able to set up the reserve prior to the 2013-2014 budget vote.”
“If not approved,” they said, “it will change the budget we are currently working on, such that we will have to put the repairs into the new budget.”
The repairs and maintenance of Bridgehampton School’s facilities are outlined in the district’s five-year plan, which charts a course of action for the years 2011 through 2016.
In the plan, school officials explained that “one of the main objectives of the school board is to find or create more space. Although the school was built for a larger population of students than it currently houses, space is inadequate for present needs.”
“Changes in the way education is delivered require a larger staff including teachers for special needs and specific skills, as well as additional administrative personnel…In providing space for these expanded needs, available classroom space has been reduced,” they said.
Currently, the school’s facilities include the large, red brick building constructed in 1930, as well as several prefabricated buildings added in subsequent decades.
These prefabs, however, were “built to minimal standards and require disproportionate resources to keep them in serviceable condition. It has been an objective of the school to build a proper addition to the main building so that the functions housed in the outbuildings could be brought back under the same roof.”
At the same time, the five-year plan notes that the main building is in “excellent” condition, and that “it was built to a very high standard and has been well maintained.”
Many of the upgrades for the main building are in the area of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), as well as lighting.
At the time the plan was created, the estimated cost of restoring the main building to a “state of good repair” was $1,163,000 — $650,000 of which was for HVAC.
School officials have also expressed interest in renovating the combination gymnasium/auditorium, which they believe to be too small. In a previous interview, Hauser mentioned that the school hoped to refinish the auditorium stage, which had been home to refrigerators and other large appliances before the school built a new, larger cafeteria over the summer.
The next board of education meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 30 at 7 p.m.