Hartford eyes school renovations

Hartford eyes school renovations
Photo courtesy of Andrew Cook. The before and after design concept for the proposed Capital Project at Hartford Central School District.

Following the potential passing of a resolution scheduled for the December Hartford Board of Education meeting, Hartford Central School District could be looking at millions of dollars’ worth of renovations to its building complex.

In a presentation held open to the public on Nov. 17, school superintendent Andrew Cook revealed updated design plans by construction company CS Arch and Associates to tackle the two primary goals of creating a new auditorium also serving as a multi-purpose room for the school and community groups and renovating the cafeteria.

According to Cook, the $9 million proposed Capital Project was designed for two reasons.

“The first is very straight-forward. To maintain and/or improve district-owned facilities and the overall educational experience of our students,” Cook said. “The second reason may seem like a strange statement, but by engaging in capital projects, school districts, if done properly, can help maintain a level tax levy for the community.”

Cook said maintaining a debt service that effectively gets paid off in a timely fashion stabilizes the tax levy, with $9 million in new debt offsetting or replacing the old debt, and preserves “strong fiscal standing.”

“This type of financial planning for a capital project creates what is referred to as a tax neutral project,” Cook said. “This means although there is new debt, the new debt replaces the old debt and the tax levy is not negatively impacted. By engaging in a new capital project, we can align the new borrowing to coincide with the expiration of existing debt and keep the budget, both the expenditure and the revenue side associated with debt service, level for years to come.”

Cook said accomplishing the two primary renovation goals would create a “domino effect” of actions to be taken to replace several existing rooms.

The removal of the stage in the current cafeteria would increase space by 1,000 square feet for after-school and extracurricular activities.

Design plans show the relocation of the stage to the chorus and instrumental classroom with the construction of a multipurpose room in the courtyard and a small portion of the library.

“The stage would be the exact same size as the stage in the cafeteria. We would not be losing any stage space,” Cook said. “The multi-purpose room would have auditorium-style seating that would be automated and be able to be pulled in and out based on the functionality of the room.

“In total, we’re projecting we would have upwards of 270 auditorium-style seats and there would be room in front of the stage for fold up chairs if additional seating is necessary… We view this new space as a wonderful opportunity to have a dedicated space for our arts program within the school, but also a space the community could take advantage of for various activities.”

For those familiar with the Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls, the seating concept for the auditorium and multi-purpose room at Hartford would be very similar.

Cook said the existing girls’ locker room with added construction would be transformed into two new “significantly larger” classrooms for band and chorus. A new locker room would be constructed, along with a new coach’s office, restrooms and storage space on the exterior of the gym.

Although the plans are “still conceptual in design,” Cook mentioned that if the resolution is passed in December, the public would vote on the proposed capital project in March 2022. If approved, construction is anticipated to span from June 2023 to September 2024.

If leftover finances allow, Cook said other areas that could see improvements are the replacement of the gymnasium floor, an upgraded art room and more.

For more information or questions to be answered, individuals may contact Hartford Central School District at 518-632-5222 or watch the presentation on the Hartford Central School District YouTube page.