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2019 Capital Project

The Ithaca City School District is committed to providing safe, welcoming, and innovative facilities for students, families, and the community.

On May 21, 2019, Ithaca City School District voters will have the opportunity to authorize a $120 million, tax-neutral capital improvement bond. The bond would support the 2019 Capital Project, a district-wide, long-term facilities plan designed to enhance safety and security, upgrade teaching and learning spaces, and improve infrastructure at all ICSD schools. Construction of the proposed project would be completed in multiple phases over the course of 12 years, with Phase I work scheduled to begin in 2020.

The ICSD would pay for the 2019 Capital Project using a combination of State Building Aid and debt retirement — as the District pays off old debt, it would take on new debt to fund the improvements. This system of debt retirement would stabilize the debt service line in the ICSD’s annual budget and, as a result, the proposed project would be tax neutral.
2019 Capital Project Logo
 
Please Vote Graphic

Information on the 2019 Capital Project

2019 Capital Project Fact Sheet

2019 Capital Project Updates Presented to the Board of Education


Frequently Asked Questions

Q

What is a capital project?

A

A capital project addresses large-scale, long-term facilities needs that cannot be completed within the scope of the district’s annual budget. The proposed 2019 Capital Project includes enhancements to safety and security, upgrades to teaching and learning spaces, and improvements to infrastructure at all ICSD schools.
 

Q

Why consider a capital project now?

A

The ICSD Board of Education audits and explores ways to maintain and protect the one million square feet of teaching and learning space within our buildings, as well as our District grounds and athletics facilities. Based on New York State-mandated Building Condition Surveys and data from our work order system, it is clear that there are many critical needs and significant issues that cannot be tackled on a daily basis by our talented team of maintainers, custodians, and grounds staff. The upgrades, renovations, and replacements outlined in the proposed capital project require attention and can be completed in a timely, cost-effective manner with partial state aid reimbursement.
 

Q

What is the total cost of the proposed project?

A

The cost of the proposed capital project is not to exceed $120 million. This amount represents the lump sum that will support the scope of the entire project. The ICSD will not spend the full $120 million all at once. Instead, the District will fund the capital improvements in multiple phases over the course of 10 years in order to ensure the project remains tax neutral.
 

Q

What impact will the capital project have on my taxes?

A

By developing an intentional and strategically phased approach to funding and debt payments, the District is able to put forth a capital project that has a zero percent increase to local property taxes. The ICSD will pay for the improvements using a combination of state building aid reimbursements and debt retirement. Only as the District pays off old debt will it take on new debt to fund the capital project. This system of debt retirement will stabilize the debt service line in the ICSD’s annual budget and, as a result, there will be no marginal tax increase to district residents.
 

Q

What happens if the bids for the work total more than $120 million over the next 10 years?

A

The Capital Project will consist of a number of phases that will be each be bid separately over the course of 10 years. If the 2019 Capital Project is approved, the ICSD can only spend up to the $120 million authorization. 

Q

Why doesn’t the ICSD use this money to increase teacher and staff salaries instead?

A

Per New York State law, the District cannot borrow money to pay salaries. However, money can be borrowed to invest in learning spaces that better support our teachers and staff.

Q

How long will it take to complete the capital project?

A

Construction of the 2019 Capital Project will occur in multiple phases over the course of 12 years. Construction of the first phase is scheduled to begin in 2020 and is anticipated to take two years to complete. 

Q

What improvements are included in Phase I of the capital project?

A

Safety and Security: most elementary schools and Ithaca High School will receive upgrades to their main entrances in order to better restrict unauthorized access to the buildings. Teaching and Learning: IHS’ York Lecture Hall will be reconfigured into two flexible learning spaces to meet modern educational needs. Infrastructure: the septic system at Caroline Elementary will be replaced; South Hill Elementary will receive a new roofing membrane and thicker roof insulation; the entire gravel lot at the Transportation Facility will be paved; and several athletic facilities at IHS will be repaired and upgraded.
 

Q

What improvements might be included in the next phase of the capital project?

A

Safety and Security: the front entrances at South Hill Elementary School, Boynton Middle School, DeWitt Middle School, and Lehman Alternative Community School will be renovated and upgraded to enhance building security. Teaching and Learning: the existing auditoriums in Boynton and DeWitt Middle Schools will be renovated to improve performance and educational use. Infrastructure: the roof at Ithaca High School will be replaced, the parking lot at South Hill Elementary School will be redesigned in order to increase car capacity and improve traffic flow, and Enfield Elementary School will receive a new boiler plant. 
 

Q

 How did the District decide which improvements to include in the capital project?

A

Planning for the 2019 Capital Project has been ongoing since spring of 2018. The process began with an in-depth facilities evaluation that combined input from ICSD grounds and maintenance staff with an analysis of the 2015 Building Condition Survey (BCS), a roof-to-foundation assessment of each building and property. The planning team, consisting of ICSD administrators, architects and engineers, construction managers, and financial advisors, integrated information from this facilities evaluation with feedback from ICSD communities to develop a preliminary project scope and phasing approach. All improvements included in the 2019 Capital Project address needs in our three key areas: Safety and Security, Teaching and Learning, and Infrastructure.
 

Q

Could we wait to address the items listed in the 2019 Capital Project?

A

Delaying the work proposed in the 2019 Capital Project would result in further deterioration of the items that require attention, as well as future higher costs in construction and design. The timing of this project aligns with the retirement of old debt for capital work and the receipt of state building aid, thus allowing us to stay within the tax cap while addressing our facilities needs before the identified issues become emergencies.
 

Q

Where can I find more information about the proposed capital project?

A

Those interested in learning more about the 2019 Capital Project can visit our website at www.ithacacityschools.org/2019CapProj. We will also be mailing an informational newsletter to all registered households in the District and will be hosting a Community Conversation on May 14 in the ICSD Board Room, 400 Lake Street, and a second on May 15 at DeWitt Middle School Auditorium, 560 Warren Road. If the project is approved, the website is a place where community members can continue to obtain information on the project’s progress.
 

Q

What if the project vote is unsuccessful?

A

The proposed tax-neutral capital project allows the district to plan and address the critical needs and safety concerns throughout the district via one referendum. If the referendum does not pass, a new referendum to address the prioritized needs identified in Phase I will be presented to the voters with future referendums to follow.  
Announcements

Community Conversations
Tuesday, May 14, 5:30 p.m.
Board Room, 400 Lake Street

Wednesday, May 15, 5:30 p.m.
DeWitt MS, 560 Warren Road

Documents

Capital Project Mailer
Capital Project Fact Sheet
Links

2019 Budget Vote & Election
2007 Capital Project
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OUR SCHOOLS
Belle Sherman
Beverly J Martin
Caroline
Cayuga Heights
Enfield
Fall Creek
Northeast
South Hill
Boynton Middle
DeWitt Middle
Ithaca HS
Lehman Alternative


DISTRICT INFO

Ithaca City School District
Dr. Luvelle Brown, Superintendent
400 Lake Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 274-2101