CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – The Chappaqua Central School District's vote against a $16.9 million BOCES capital project was less about the financial side of the proposal than about sending a message.
“I don’t think I’ve had a more conflicted vote in my tenure on the board,” said school board member Alyson Kiesel, “because I don’t like being in a position of being forced into something that I think is wrong. I think there is a fundamental flaw in this process and this project.”
Kiesel and other board members agreed that campus facilities at the Putnam/Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services need repair, but took issue with long-term planning by the school.
“To get up there and say we haven’t asked for money in 40 years and say that’s an effective means of managing those buildings,” Kiesel said, “to me, that’s not proper management, just waiting until they’re falling apart before you go and ask. If people did that with their houses that would be, you know, just atrocious. And that’s what they’ve done with their assets.”
BOCES's renovation plan, requiring unanimous approval by the 18 districts that use the facilities, was initially presented to the Board of Education last November. After the project was voted down by six of the districts, including Chappaqua, BOCES scaled the project back by $2.1 million and asked the districts to vote again.
The project would build a therapy pool, replace HVAC units, and replace and repair roofs. The proposal calls for Chappaqua to contribute $1.2 million to the repairs over a five-year period.
John McCarthy, BOCES’ assistant superintendent for administration, recently told the board that if there was no unanimous agreement, it will move forward with the projects anyway and find another way to get the funds from the districts.
“It just feels like your hands are tied behind your back and it’s not a unilateral decision that we’re participating in,” said board member Karen Visser. “I don’t feel that they’re being honest with us. They’re pretending that they’re talking with us and that we’re going back and forth, but they’re not really listening. I’m being lied to.”
The board agreed to send a letter to BOCES publicly stating why it did not vote for the projects and to ask officials to return and have a discussion about its business model and future planning.