ELMSFORD, N.Y. — The fate of the Elmsford school district's capital plan that would remove the Carl L. Dixson building from the school system is now up to the public.
After being approved by the Elmsford Board of Education on Oct. 18, the $21 million renovation plan will be voted on in a school district referendum Dec. 12 at the Alice E. Grady Elementary School Music Room. The project will include selling Dixson and transferring its students into an expanded and renovated Grady.
The project would cost village taxpayers on average about $340 a year, according to the board's presentation. Though the board is awaiting a preliminary appraisal, the district could be reimbursed by an estimated $2.6 million in state aid. The project will be a relief in the long run because the cost of running an extra building will no longer be a burden, Mayor Robert Williams said at a Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.
"We spend a little today, we save money tomorrow," he said. "The kids get a better education, and we're doing it the most cost-efficient way."
Besides adding a wing of classrooms and facilities to Grady, upgrades to Grady and Alexander Hamilton High School would include more parking, wireless Internet access, ventilation repairs and floor replacements. Superintendent Barbara Peters said unifying the campuses would save class time that students lose by moving between campuses throughout the day.
The expansion also would add much-needed facilities that the current Dixson lacks, said Madeline Paneto-Gonzalez, principal of Dixson and Grady.
"Our library is a music room with books on a shelf somewhere," Paneto-Gonzalez said. "This is where we instill that love of reading, and we don't even have a library."
If the referendum is approved, the village plans to buy the Dixson property to create a new village hall, police station and senior community center — reimbursing the school district and making money by selling the current Village Hall at 15 S. Stone Ave.
But residents like Justin Datino voiced their concerns about raising taxes for a project they said wasn't necessary.
"The idea of students having a better facility is a good thing, but do we want to pay for a building that's going to take 20 years to pay off?" Datino said. "There's a lot of stuff here that's cosmetic. The village is not in financial shape to take on this burden."
If the board receives the public's vote and approval from the New York State Education Department, construction would begin next November and be completed by the spring of 2015 at the latest.
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