Nearly $20 million in school capital improvement projects will be placed on hold indefinitely because of fiscal constraints facing the Rye City School District.
At Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, business manager Kathleen Ryan said the district will allocate only $300,000 in this year's $69.7 million recommended budget to capital improvement projects.
The district's 2009-10 budget allocated $900,000 to these projects and $600,000 for the installation of four portable classrooms at Rye High School.
The key projects being deferred are heating and ventilation system updates and repairs, ceiling and lighting improvements, alarm system upgrades, masonry repairs, electrical panel and distribution upgrades and some abatement projects.
This year's budget also won't fund projects such as the expansion of a television studio at Rye High School, updates to its science lab and locker rooms, parking and pedestrian safety projects and upgrades to the school's upper field.
Suggested projects for the $300,000 allocation include $20,500 for repairs at Milton School, which includes painting classrooms and hallways and replacing damaged roof gutters. Osborn School could receive $73,200 in upgrades, which include replacing cracked skylights, inspecting the school's chimney and replacing parts of the emergency generator.
Midland School and 324 Midland Avenue, the location of the Rye School of Leadership, are slated to receive the bulk of the repair money, with $125,000 going to door replacements, chimney reconstruction and ventilation improvements to the school's crawlspace.
Rye High School and Rye Middle School will likely get more than $80,000 for improvement projects, such as painting hallways and classrooms, reconstructing courtyard pavers and carpet replacements in the main office and assistant principals' offices at both schools.
Board member Kendall Egan said small scale repairs to school buildings are only a temporary fix for what could become a larger problem.
"You put your finger in the dike and hope that it doesn't burst. It's not really the best way to maintain your buildings," she said.
Egan said the parking issue at Rye Middle School and High School deserves funding and immediate attention.
"With increasing enrollment, we have increasing staff loads and we do not have room in our current parking lot for all of our staff," she said. "We have some staff members that are parking on the street, but we have maxed out our street parking. I really do think this is a must-do."
"I would really recommend putting this as a priority project and trying to find a way to fund this by using fund balance reserves," she added.
Board member Ray Schmitt echoed Egan's concerns, saying that deferring some projects, such as upgrades to the science lab—which Schmitt referred to as "substandard"—could ultimately be more costly for the district.
"There are things that do ultimately impact instruction," he said. "There is a bit of an education element to these things, it's not just bricks and mortar."