ILION — The Central Valley school district does not need the former Remington Elementary School and keeping the building would cost district voters more in the long run than selling it to Herkimer BOCES for $1.
That was the message of the presentation school Superintendent Jeremy Rich gave during a public information meeting Wednesday evening at Central Valley Academy.
Central Valley school district voters are being asked to the polls Nov. 12 to vote on a proposal to sell the former Remington Elementary School to Herkimer BOCES. Residents had an opportunity to hear the reasons for the proposed sale and ask questions Wednesday. Only two members of the public attended.Get the latest stories delivered to your inbox every morning with the Times Telegram daily newsletter: Choose the Daily Newsletter option and pick from five other selections to expand your coverage.
Rich explained that an advisory committee of school and BOCES representatives and community members met during the summer and discussed the issues that had been raised when the possibility of selling the building first came up. After reviewing the options, the committee’s recommendation was to sell the building to BOCES. The school board agreed and set a date for a vote.
Reasons to sell the building include the fact that the district does not need five buildings, said Rich. Herkimer BOCES has been leasing the Remington building since fall 2013 when the merger of the former Ilion and Mohawk school districts to form the Central Valley school district took effect. BOCES established Pathways Academy at the Remington facility to house some of its programs. About 60 to 70 of the 121 students who attend classes there are Central Valley students, said Rich.
The cost to maintain the building would be borne by Central Valley if it is not sold, he said. Currently, the district breaks even with the rent it receives from BOCES. That would not cover the cost of a new roof or other improvements.
If BOCES moved its classes out and the building became vacant, it would likely become rundown and an eyesore, said the superintendent. Deed restrictions would limit other potential buyers. Parts of the property were gifted to the district with the provision the property remain in public use.
Ilion is centrally located in the BOCES district, said Rich. Moving BOCES classes to another district would increase transportation costs. If BOCES decided to build an addition onto the William E. Busacker complex in East Herkimer to house its programs, Central Valley would bear the largest portion of the cost because it has the most students, said Rich.
As for the fields behind the former school, BOCES has no interest in them other than to use them for regular physical education classes, said Rich. The Central Valley athletic coordinator would continue to schedule the use of the fields.
The possibility of separating the fields from the building sale was explored, according to Rich, but because of minimum land requirements for a school building and deed restrictions, this would be virtually impossible.
As for the $1 price tag, Rich explained that the district will receive $800,000 in building aid for prior renovations at Remington Elementary. Each dollar received in a sale reduces that aid by $1.
If Central Valley voters OK the sale of the building, Rich said, he will approach the superintendents of the other Herkimer BOCES component districts to set a date for voters from all of the districts to vote on whether or not to purchase the building.
One question raised Wednesday was whether or not the district would have enough room for growth in its current buildings.
Rich pointed out that while the Jarvis Middle School project is under way, all of the students are being housed in three buildings. When Jarvis reopens, there will be additional classrooms and a new auditorium.
"Within the building project, 18 rooms are slotted for BOCES use. We’ll have a lot of space for growth," said Rich.
A question was also raised about insurance issues regarding the use of the field. District Business Administrator Jim Humphrey said any district using the field would add a rider onto its insurance policy.
District resident Matthew Shedd noted that if the district remains in a landlord position it would not be able to take out debt service for maintenance or improvements to the building.
"Anything we do to the building is cash," he said.
Remington was one of two elementary schools in the former Ilion school district. It opened in 1977 after the North Street and West Hill schools were closed. Additions were constructed in 1990 and 2001 and the building was renovated in 2010.