Plattsburgh City School Board members have some interesting decisions to make as they weigh the results of a consultant’s report on district buildings.
The district paid Castallo & Silky Education Consultants $25,000 to study building space, in light of enrollment projections and other factors, and come up with recommendations.
The top conclusion was that the district should move its offices out of the Duken Building, a former elementary school located on a spacious lot off Broad Street.
The consultants suggested that district offices be spread between Stafford Middle School, a few blocks down Broad Street, and Plattsburgh High School, not far away on Rugar Street.
Then the district could find tenants to lease space in the Duken facility for the 2014-15 school year. Its sale was not advised, in case elementary enrollment increases down the line and it is needed for classrooms.
The Duken Building, we have noted before, is located in a prime city location with good parking space. The large field behind it, which used to serve as a playground, sits unused.
In presenting their report, the consultants noted that preliminary interest from at least a couple of possible unnamed tenants has already been expressed.
So the City School District has the potential to make money on its rental. And, according to the consultants, even if the district left the building vacant, an estimated savings of between $71,825 and $84,600 a year would result just from cutting utility and custodial costs.
But, complicating the discussion was an idea the consultants looked at but didn’t recommend: closing Oak Street Elementary School (grades 3-5) and moving those students to nearby Bailey Avenue Elementary (grades K-2 now), where a 20-classroom addition would need to be built.
Some School Board members want to explore that idea more because the consultants reported a possible $190,000 in savings if Oak were to close, plus another $50,300 for keeping that building at minimal light and heat.
We have heard some members of the public express skepticism about the quote of $100,000 in 20-year debt service, after aid, for the Bailey Avenue addition — fearing it would actually cost more than that.
And few people here can forget the nasty debate over closing Duken Elementary some years back, which had families screaming at each other and board members.
The Oak-Bailey merger should certainly be studied, but it will take time, and there is no reason to hold up the idea of vacating Duken while that happens. The consultants say district offices should move with or without that merger.
Tampering with student disbursement is always a controversial idea, but Duken hasn’t been a school in many years, so there is no need for hesitation.
It should be vacated as soon as possible to save district taxpayers money and possibly earn an income.