POUGHKEEPSIE – Voters in the Poughkeepsie City School District will head to the polls on Tuesday, October 20, to decide on two propositions designed to improve the neglected infrastructure of the schools in the district.
The first proposition encompasses substantial security and infrastructure improvements while the second seeks to perform major overhauls of schools along with creating instructional programming designed to enhance the educational experience of the students. An overview of the Capital Bond Project can be found here.
Proposition 1 is a $48.25 million plan that will provide new secure entrances to the buildings, repair or replacement of failing roofs, the renovations of the bathrooms, upgrades to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC), and the installation of marquee signage at the schools.
According to the district, the tax impact for Proposition 1 on homeowners will vary based on the assessed value as well as senior and STAR exemptions. For seniors with a STAR exemption, the tax increase will be $4 per year on a home valued at $100,000. A $100,000 home with a STAR exemption will see an increase of $15 a year, while a home without senior or STAR exemptions will see a $24 annual increase in taxes.
Proposition 2 is an ambitious proposal that calls for major overhauls to the schools and the creation of advanced instructional programs for the students. The $50.5 million plan includes the complete renovation of the Warring Elementary School and Poughkeepsie Middle School Cafeteria combined with new programming. Each elementary school in the district will focus on a different curriculum including technology, performing arts, medical, literacy, and arts.
The combined cost for both propositions is $98.9 million.
Poughkeepsie High School Class of 2020 graduate Anjahne Garrett said the repairs are necessary. “Being in the school made us feel like we were second class citizens,” said Garrett. The recent grad praised the staff and administration in the district while supporting the plan. “I really hope people catch the vision that we are not second-class citizens, that our PCSD students deserve better facilities than these old run-down buildings that are embarrassing. Other students tease us, they call us ghetto and poor but we are not either. We just don’t have the support of our community like other districts. I am eligible to vote and I will be voting for Proposition 2 because we need a lot of work on the buildings in our school district and because PCSD students deserve a better learning environment!”
District Superintendent Dr. Eric Rosser stressed the need for both propositions to be approved. “Our goal is to create 21st Century learning environments to maximize student potential and support the beauty of the surrounding community. We recognize that over the years our facilities have been neglected and in some cases have failed a community standard of how our educational institutions should contribute to the surrounding community.
Through this project, we seek to deliver on our commitment to our students and teachers by providing them with modern spaces for learning and instruction and uphold our commitment to our community. The propositions will support us in delivering on this goal.”
School board Vice-president Debra Long served as the board’s liaison to the capital project committee and is encouraging voters to approve the plan. “Voters should approve the capital project because when it comes to student learning, school facilities matter. School facility investments lead to modest, gradual improvements in student test scores, large immediate improvements in student attendance, and significant improvements in student effort. This movement will support the direction the district is moving in … new facilities matters! “
The propositions have received the endorsement of Mayor Rob Rolison. In a statement issued on Thursday, Rolison said, “Those familiar with the Poughkeepsie City School District recognize there are compelling needs to make major renovations to our aging schools — to ensure our children have a 21st-century learning environment. Superintendent Dr. Eric Jay Rosser has put forth such plans. He is offering voters options and, significantly, these initiatives come with highly favorable state reimbursement rates. As co-chair of the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet, I urge voters to consider these plans carefully and to support the district’s Capital Improvement Project. The vote takes place from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, October 20.”
The polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday. Voters can find their polling location here.