Voters approve $25M for Indian River project

Indian River Central School District Superintendent Troy W. Decker describes the process of geothermal heating and cooling near the site where crews work in October to complete part of the capital project near the middle school in Philadelphia. To cover increasing labor and materials costs, district voters on Tuesday approved an additional $25.75 million for the same capital project scope, which was approved by voters in 2019. Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Times

PHILADELPHIA — Indian River Central School District residents had the opportunity Tuesday to vote on additional funding for the district’s $41 million capital project, coming on the heels of increased labor and material costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the pandemic increasing costs well beyond the original estimates, the district needs an additional $25.75 million to complete the same scope of work that voters approved in spring 2019. According to Superintendent Troy W. Decker, within that $25 million is some built-in cushion, so that in the event that costs continue to escalate, there would be at least some means to allow for that.

While unofficial until the board of education recognizes the vote on Thursday, the results were 57 votes in favor of the extra spending and eight opposed, for a total of 65 ballots counted, Mr. Decker said.

The additional funding will allow the district to complete in-progress projects, including essential health and safety, mechanical, structural and electrical elements within school buildings. The capital project focuses on things like roofs, climate control and essential renovations to the district’s facilities.

Both instructional buildings and main support buildings were addressed in the plan. The district’s four primary schools, along with the intermediate, middle and high schools, were included in planning for work, as well as the Calcium storage building, the transportation facility, maintenance center and concession building.

Some of work the district hoped to have completed by the end of the project when plans were drawn up include:

— Replacement of aggregate panels and windows

— LED lighting upgrades

— Upgraded alarm and public address systems

— Ventilation upgrades

— Reroofing

— Upgrading of temperature controls and cooling and heating upgrades

— Conversion to geo-thermal district-wide

— Bathroom updates

With voter approval, all aspects of the project can be completed with no impact to the local tax levy. As is, the $41 million capital project also did not increase the tax levy. According to Mr. Decker, the last several projects of the district, encompassing millions of dollars, have all occurred with no tax levy increase.

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