On Tuesday, Nov. 14, Central Valley School District residents will go to the polls to consider the sale of the Remington school building to Herkimer BOCES. BOCES has rented Remington since the merger.
Central Valley voters will actually be asked to vote on two separate propositions. The first would authorize the district to sell the building to BOCES. This would be decided by a simple majority of resident voters.
The second would authorize BOCES to purchase the building. Voters in all eight Herkimer BOCES component districts will vote on the same proposition, to be decided by a simple majority of all combined voters. Herkimer BOCES has posted information on the decision to seek the purchase on its website.
Both propositions would have to pass to authorize the sale/purchase.
The Central Valley Board of Education voted 7-0 at its meeting on July 5, approving the vote (Note: The original date had been set as Oct. 11, but was changed to Nov. 14 following a vote of the Herkimer BOCES board).
Under the proposal, Central Valley would sell the building to BOCES for one dollar.
Why is Central Valley considering selling the Remington school building?
Remington closed as a school when Ilion and Mohawk merged in 2013. Since that time, Central Valley has rented the building to Herkimer BOCES. Herkimer BOCES has asked to purchase the building.
Why sell for only one dollar?
Central Valley currently receives state building aid reimbursement for a capital project that made improvements to Remington. For every dollar we receive in the sale, we lose a dollar in state aid.
How does the purchase price affect Central Valley?
As a component of Herkimer BOCES, Central Valley will also be a buyer. Central Valley’s enrollment makes up 25 percent of all students in Herkimer BOCES, so the district would be responsible for 25 percent of the purchase price. (Note: A portion of Central Valley’s obligation is eligible for state aid.)
Why sell? Could we continue leasing Remington to Herkimer BOCES?
There are two reasons to consider for selling.
First, Central Valley has the responsibility for all maintenance and repairs to Remington. The district has already paid to repair a water line break under the floor and repairs after a small fire in a rooftop heating unit. Central Valley’s focus needs to be educating students, not fulfilling the role of landlord.
Second, Herkimer BOCES wants to buy the building. Remington was designed as an elementary school. Herkimer BOCES estimates it needs to make several million dollars in upgrades to the building to configure it for high school and adult students. They will not make those upgrades on a leased building.
Could we keep Remington and use it for Central Valley students?
First and most important, 30 percent of the students (48 of 156) attending Herkimer BOCES Pathways Academy at Remington are Central Valley students. Pathways provides educational opportunities for students who have been unsuccessful in a traditional high school setting. Pathways provides specialized programs in a separate setting that would be difficult and expensive to duplicate at CVA.
Second, the 98-percent building aid on the current Central Valley capital project is based on having students in four buildings—specifically Fisher, Barringer Road, Jarvis, and CVA. Changing that plan risks losing a portion of that building aid.
(Note: Central Valley receives higher-than-normal building aid under the approved merger plan. That merger plan included closing Remington. Trying to keep Remington would result in the State Education Department (SED) recalculating and reducing the building aid reimbursement. Each one-percent reduction in aid would require an additional $700,000 in local taxes to pay for the capital project.)
Could we keep Remington for the remainder of the capital project, then sell it to Herkimer BOCES? (This would address some of the challenges related to closing Jarvis during renovations.)
Herkimer BOCES would be forced to find different space to house its Remington programs (Pathways Academy, adult education and literacy programs). According to BOCES officials, that space is simply not available in the immediate area. Other options are far away or would require costly renovations.
Remington has been ideal for BOCES because it is large enough to accommodate the students and is functional without additional expense. It is also close to the main complex in Herkimer, meaning other BOCES component make single bus runs for CTE and Pathways students.
BOCES administrators expressed concern that losing Remington—even for just two years—could force BOCES to discontinue the program until an alternative site could be located and renovated. That would require CVA to take back our 48 students and try to develop a similar alternative education program in-house.
Herkimer BOCES officials are committed to the Pathways program are unwilling to risk an uncertain future. If the Remington purchase falls through they have suggested building a $30 million addition to the Herkimer BOCES complex. Unfortunately, that project’s approval, design, and construction are expected to take at least five years. Again, Central Valley would be forced to find programming for 48 Pathways students and Central Valley taxpayers would be responsible for 25 percent of those costs.
Could we keep Remington and abandon Jarvis or another elementary building? (After all, Remington is in good condition.)
The simple answer is that Central Valley cannot without risking tens of millions of dollars of local taxpayer money.
SED approved the merger plan, the capital project, and building aid based on Fisher, Barringer Road, Jarvis, and CVA—without Remington.
Further, Central Valley has already signed contracts binding the district and its taxpayers to work under the capital project. Central Valley and taxpayers would be liable for all costs related to those contracts – even if the district chose not to move forward. (The law protects the contractors who have committed time and passed over other work to take on the work at Central Valley.)
What happens to the Thunder soccer/field hockey field at Remington?
Herkimer BOCES has agreed to offer Central Valley first refusal on the Remington athletic field. This means Central Valley would have the right to use the fields after school. (In the event Central Valley does not want or need the field, it would be available to other BOCES component districts.) Thunder soccer and field hockey teams currently use the field for practice and games. Some of those games would be relocated to the new CVA multi-use turf field, which is to be ready for the Fall 2018 sports season.