BEDFORD, N.Y. — The public vote on bonding for the Bedford Central School District’s capital plan will be pushed from March to October of the new school year under recommendations made this week by Superintendent Jere Hochman.
“We put together a pretty aggressive timeline ,” Hochman said at Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting, which included a detailed technical presentation on proposed building improvements. Since September 2011, more than 18 Board of Education meetings have included presentations on the district's capital planning process.
While Hochman said the district should stay on the current timeline for now, he suggested putting the actual public bond vote on hold until after budget season, and then rejuvenating the conversation with the community in the fall. Hochman is expected to present the administration’s recommendation on the capital plan at the board's Jan. 9 meeting. The Board of Education will vote on conceptual approval at their Jan. 23 meeting.
Currently, the district’s capital plan involves renovating West Patent Elementary School, modernizing the science labs and cafeteria at Fox Lane Middle School, continuing the high school stadium’s renovation and addressing infrastructure improvements in all of the district’s buildings.
The district’s Budget Advisory Committee, parent presidents, and members of the Community Investment Program were informed in a Tuesday morning e-mail that “a few variables have changed, even in the last couple of weeks.”
According to the superintendent, these variables include the fact that the most recent information forecasts a $5 million to $6 million gap in next year’s budget, which was unknown when the timeline was first designed. The district establishes a target for the annual budget in December, and the discussion of program and staffing cuts is expected to peak just about the time of a March capital plan vote, according to the e-mail.
“Right now that will become our focus: to develop a budget that comes in under the tax cap,” Hochman said Wednesday night, adding that state and federal funding could change in the next month and year.
Finally, Hochman said, the “interviews for candidates for the construction manager for this project illustrated keenly that our timeline is far too tight for the individual to adequately ‘scrub’ the numbers and convert ideas and concepts into precise costs by March.”
All polls of various Citizens Advisory Groups are in support of an October vote, according to Community Investment Program head Christina Dochtermann. Board members expressed solidarity with Hochman’s proposal, including Jen Gerken, who said that getting the district’s operating budget in order is the first priority.
“An October date would allow time for analysis of figures and communication of all details with the public,” Hochman said in his Tuesday missive.