Here is Information from the Pelham School District on frequently asked questions about the Special Vote on Tuesday, June 18 on its proposed acquisition of 314 Pelhamdale Avenue. Polls will be open from 7am to 9pm at the PMHS Main Gym.
What am I being asked to vote on?
Eligible voters are being asked to authorize the school district to purchase the property at 314 Pelhamdale Avenue, which is adjacent to Colonial School.
Why is the District seeking to purchase this property?
The existing house could be used as office space for District administration which is planned to vacate its current offices in PMHS to make way for additional classrooms. The District included $265,000 in the 2019-20 budget for rent, which would be re-allocated to convert the house to offices and fund other District-wide facilities projects if the house is acquired. The property could also provide expanded playground and green space for Colonial School, which is currently constrained due to its location in a residential neighborhood. Purchasing the property could also provide future boards of education flexibility to consider expansion of Colonial School if and when the situation warrants it.
Why does the District need office space?
The District’s Central Administration, including the superintendent’s, business, pupil personnel and curriculum offices are currently located on the ground floor of PMHS. As part of the capital improvement bond that passed in May 2018, those spaces will be converted into classrooms to address capacity issues at the high school and middle school. As a result, those offices will be relocated.
What Renovations are Planned for PMHS and PMS?
District offices located on the ground floor of Pelham Memorial High School are scheduled to be renovated into classrooms beginning this summer. The space currently used for district offices will be converted into new high school art rooms, flexible classrooms for the Bridge academy, a new Foundations of Learning room, and general purpose classrooms. In total, the renovation will create six additional classrooms. Other renovations to the campus include outfitting two existing classrooms for Science Research and Physics, and creation of a dedicated orchestra room. These renovations were included in the 2018 Capital Improvement Bond to address current and anticipated capacity concerns resulting from increased enrollment. Additionally, the roof of the PMHS Annex will be replaced and select masonry repairs will be completed on both the middle and high schools.
Where will central administrators park?
The District has begun discussions with the Village of Pelham regarding a parking plan for the 13-15 members of the District administration who may be located in the house. While no official parking plan is available at this time, the District will share such a plan following the successful acquisition of the property.
Will the house require renovations prior to District administration moving in?
It is likely that the house will require some renovation prior to it being used for office space. The District will consult with its architect to ensure that the house is compliant with any relevant regulation and codes under applicable state and local laws. The District included $265,000 in the 2019-20 budget for rent, which would be re-allocated to convert the house to offices and fund other District-wide facilities projects if the house is acquired.
Why purchase the property now?
There are very few properties that are contiguous to Colonial School and though expanding the school property has been on the Board’s radar for some time, opportunities to do so are extremely rare. Given the space limitations on the current Colonial property and the District’s plans to move Central Offices out of PMHS, the Board actively pursued the acquisition.
How much will this cost and how will we pay for it?
The negotiated purchase price for the property is $1.1 million. The Board of Education will use unassigned fund balance to pay the full cost, meaning that no borrowing is necessary and the purchase will not raise taxes. Even though there is no tax increase, the state requires that acquisition of property be voted on by the public.
What is Unassigned Fund Balance?
School districts are permitted to hold 4% of the annual budget in unassigned fund balance, which provides flexibility for unforeseen expenditures. These funds may be used at the discretion of the Board of Education, ideally for one-time purchases rather than for recurring expenditures. In addition to the unassigned fund balance, the District also maintains other funds and reserves that may only be used for specific purposes, such as the Debt Service Fund, Employee Retirement System Reserve, and a Capital Reserve designated for athletic fields.
How was the purchase price of $1.1 million established?
In order to acquire property, school districts are obligated to pay fair market value. Recognizing the unique value of this specific property to the District, the administration and Board of Education engaged in direct negotiations with the seller. As part of establishing a fair market value the District consulted with a local real estate agent to establish a projected list price, reviewed list prices of similar properties, and the seller’s asking price. The agreed upon price of $1.1 million was recently confirmed by a certified appraiser.
Why is a special referendum being held in June?
While the Board had hoped to include the property acquisition proposition on the same ballot as the May budget vote and school board member election, the timing of the negotiations did not allow for that to happen, resulting in the scheduling of a June 18 special election.
More information is available at www.pelhamschools.org. Click "Property Acquisition Special Vote" under Board of Education" Tab.