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POTSDAM - Potsdam Central School officials are hitting the road in an effort to sell an $18 million capital project plan that will be on the ballot Dec. 12.

Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said he had met with faculty and staff at the district’s three school buildings, and he spent time Wednesday morning with a group of senior citizens at Mayfield Apartments.

He said over the next three weeks he has appearances scheduled at Booster Club, PTA, Lions Club and Rotary Club meetings as well as a visit with residents at Midtown Apartments.

“We want to get the word out so everybody has the appropriate information to make an informed vote,” Mr. Brady pointed out.

A tour of the district’s buildings will be held Nov. 26, and a public hearing on the proposed project is scheduled for Dec. 3.

The project calls for $10.6 million worth of work at Potsdam High School, $3 million at AAK Middle School, $1.3 million at Lawrence Avenue Elementary School and $1.3 at the bus garage and for a fire alarm system upgrade.

The district is showcasing some of its crumbling infrastructure during its tour stops as well as on the district website. He said the photographs detail the crumbling exterior in the front area of the high school building, that building’s 1929-era heating system and 1957-era food service coolers and 1972 vintage parking lots.

“The list goes on and on,” according to the Potsdam school superintendent, citing duct tapes on the floor of second-grade classrooms and the high school auditorium.

He said the work is focused on health, safety and energy efficiency improvements.

“Much of this project is about heating and lighting long-term savings. We feel this will help reduce our costs,” Mr. Brady said, noting district officials trimmed a $30 million dream list down to the $18 million project.

While the district has faced serious budget challenges in recent years, Mr. Brady said this is the right time to be moving forward with the capital project work.

“The capital reserve fund along with the retirement of past capital debt will cover the local share of this project. Taxpayers will see no tax impact for this project,” he stressed.

Mr. Brady said 86 percent of the cost of the work will be paid for through state aid with the remaining 14 percent being covered by the $885,000 allocation from the district’s capital reserve fund and the $2.5 million that will replace debt that is being paid off from a previous project.

“There would be no state aid if we did this within our own budget. We feel now is the prudent time for this project with this debt coming off, and we are also aware the governor has been proposing changing the building aid formula, which would likely mean a reduction from the 86 percent we currently receive,”the school superintendent stressed.

He also suggested the infrastructure improvements could benefit Potsdam Central as talk increases down the road about possible mergers and consolidations of school districts.

“Those districts that have taken care of their schools will be in a better position to be receivers in this type of environment,” Mr. Brady said.

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