Battling to bankroll some $19 million in repairs at , Dr. James Langlois urged board of education members Thursday night to approve its $1.7 million share of the bill.
Upbeat despite three other districts’ rejection of a proposed bond, Langlois, the BOCES superintendent, stressed the “no-choice” nature of the repairs.
“The lifetime of these roofs and HVACs are ending when they’re ending,” he told the board during a meeting at the in Mohegan Lake.
"They were all built at the same time," he said. "They all need replacing at the same time."
Lakeland, one of 18 districts that jointly own the sprawling bi-county educational facility in Yorktown, is among the final seven to vote on the repair project. So far, six districts have agreed to pay their share of the repair costs, a figure based on the district’s property values and number of students at BOCES. Three other districts have refused and nine remain to be counted.
While one rejection is enough to scuttle the project, Langlois plans to revisit the districts that voted down the funds, seeking to persuade them on the need to make the scheduled repairs or to present a modified, presumably scaled-back, plan.
In the meantime, he’s visiting the districts that have not yet voted. In addition to Lakeland, they are Briarcliff, Garrison, Haldane, Ossining, Putnam Valley, Somers, Peekskill and .
Lakeland’s school board, polite and in the end noncommittal, offered little encouragement.
"The hesitation is the money," said Carol Ann Dobson, the board's vice president. She added that no one questions the need for the repairs, but it's “just the timing" they're concerned about.
“We tried to pick the worst possible time,” he quipped. Jokes aside, Langlois emphasized the end-of-life nature of the needed repairs.
The include $2.95 million to fix a therapeutic pool, $8.7 million for the heating-ventilation-air conditioning (HVAC) work across seven buildings and $5.19 million for roof repairs.
Since BOCES is not a taxing entity, it needs the approval of all 18 school boards before the project can proceed. It has asked the districts to complete their voting by month’s end.
BOCES—the Board of Cooperative Educational Services—offers programs of special education, vocational training and online learning, as well as technical and support services. Although the school districts collectively own the BOCES facilities, capital costs to keep them running are not exempt under the state’s newly enacted tax-cap restrictions.
Langlois told the board that Assemblywoman Sandy Galef of Ossining was working to include that exemption. “But don’t count on it,” he said.