Thursday, March 27, 2014

Autism Center at PCS: Some Facts

Potsdam Central officials have decided to convert the former daycare building (now owned by the district) into a BOCES autism center. After twenty years of daycare use, the building needs to be renovated and converted into a space suitable for such a center.

While this renovations project was going to be voted upon this month, State Education officials have temporarily pulled the plug. Their concern centers around having such students placed in a campus building that is separate from the K-8 building and the high school building - in other words, seemingly isolated from other students. The BOCES and PCS superintendents are appealing the decision and, obviously, are looking for SED approval.

In the meantime, it is worth noting some facts about the proposed renovations project:

  • Renovations Cost:    $350,000
  • Interest Cost:             $118,000
  • Total Cost:                 $468,465
  • State Aid:                   $397,850 
  • Local Share:              $ 70,615
  • Rent/year                  $ 68,000/year  (which increases 3%/year)
  • Rent over 10 years     $700,000 (estimated)
  • Cost of Custodian       $300,000 (est. over 10 years)
  • Bonding Period:         15 years 
  • Proposed Occupancy Date: Sept. 2014
Since the bonding period would be for 15 years and the lease period would be for 10 years, consider the following:
  1. Since school districts, by law, can engage in 10-year leases - as a maximum term, less, of course, is permissible - (a second 10-year lease can be agreed to when the first ends). PCS BOE member Rachel Wallace asked what could occur if BOCES decided not to sign for a second 10-year lease. She was told that there would be very little owed by that time so it would not be a financial problem for the district. 
  2. Since the lease permits BOCES to end the lease with 120 days notice, another question would be, what is the financial risk to the PCSD if BOCES decided, for some reason, to opt out after a year? Two years? 120 days?
  3. $350K is a small amount of money in an approximate $28M PCS budget. Why bond it over 15 years instead of over the proposed 10-years of the lease?
  4. If BOCES opted out, for some reason, would NYS still give the same state aid ratio on a building that is not occupied or is not used for classroom purposes? 

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