• Capital Projects Overview 
     
    Scarsdale’s facilities support the educational program. Five of the seven school buildings were built almost a century ago. The newest is over a half century old.
     
    By law, school districts must hire an engineering firm to perform an Annual Visual Inspection of all buildings. A technician walks the buildings with the facilities staff, noting maintenance and safety issues that should be addressed.
     
    Every five years, a licensed engineer must conduct a more extensive investigation called the Building Condition Survey. The engineer reviews all building systems, including boilers, heating, ventilation, plumbing, mechanical equipment, masonry and other physical structures. The most recent Building Condition Survey was completed in 2010-11 and identified almost $4 million in recommended infrastructure repairs. The District’s facilities staff believes this number is insufficient. They maintains their own list of long-term facilities projects based on detailed inspections of individual building systems (roofs, playgrounds, gymnasiums, cafeterias) by specialized consultants. Principals also have their own lists of building enhancements to support program needs.
     
    History of the Plant Improvement Allocation
     
    The 1970s and early 1980s were periods of high cost and runaway inflation, leading many school districts and universities to defer investment in infrastructure maintenance. In the late 1980s, many therefore found themselves with aging, antiquated, and/or significantly deteriorated facilities that were in need of costly repairs. Scarsdale was not an exception.
     
    In 1990, the District asked voters to approve a bond referendum for basic building systems like boilers, roofs and windows, the first in many years. In 1998, enrollment projections and other basic infrastructure needs again led the District to borrow for major expansion and improvements in all buildings. Deferred maintenance had imposed substantial added costs on taxpayers – both because smaller problems had grown greater and because of interest charges involved in borrowing. As a result, the Board of Education established the target of allocating 2- 3 percent of the annual operating budget to major building renovation and/or improvement. The standard in the college and university world is approximately four percent.
     
    During the next decade of construction, classrooms and multi-purpose spaces were added, defective structures were removed and rebuilt, and windows and boilers were replaced. In the spring of 2000, the Board of Education set aside $1.48 million in the operating budget for major repairs, renovations and improvements, and it stated its intent to increase this amount by 10 percent each year. Sustained over many years, this level of investment would avert future bond issues for all but the largest projects. Based on this long term strategy, the District could maintain infrastructure integrity and address building needs growing from health, safety, enrollment and program enhancement concerns on an annual, timely, basis. Instead of accumulating projects over many years until a bond referendum was needed. The goal was to address small issues before they became large.
     
    In practice, the Board has not kept pace with either its 2-3 percent guideline or with its commitment to a 10% annual increase. The 2013-14 budget of $1.050 million was approximately half of the 2008-09 budget allocation. However, despite recent budgetary stresses, the Board has continued to provide substantial operating funds each year to address capital needs. Significant problems have been addressed. Walter infiltration, roof and masonry repairs, hazardous material removal, door replacements, bathroom renovations, playground safety, handicapped accessibility issues, and district-wide lock replacement (a security enhancement) have all been managed proactively.
     
    Program issues have also been addressed. The Greenacres library was re-fitted with new, more computer-friendly lighting, and furniture appropriate for elementary children, replacing outsized bookcases that had been there for many years. The computer lab was moved from the second floor to a space immediately adjacent to the library. With the exception of new seating, a multi-year renovation of the High School auditorium is complete, including new sound and lighting systems, an orchestra pit lift, and new stage equipment.
     
    District administration prioritizes needs and potential projects according to category. First come health and safety issues, followed by enrollment-driven needs. Ongoing maintenance issues are then addressed, followed by building investment that is driven by program changes or enhancements. The last two categories have traditionally been most affected by budget constraints. The list of justifiable projects is always longer than what available funding can support.
     
    The District’s budget details proposed uses for plant improvement funds and provides a status update on projects funded in previous budgets. In operation, the budget is a best estimate of the coming year’s activity, as actual needs change in the course of time. As a project is developed, it may be determined that the initial budget request was too high or that the scope of the project must increase and will require additional funds. Emergencies arise. For example, last year a sewer line break at the Greenacres School required almost $100,000 to repair.
     
    All projects are bid competitively, consistent with state law. An update on Plant Improvement projects is provided monthly in the Treasurer’s report.