Haldane Reviews $108 Million Plan

A rendering depicts proposed new projects for Haldane. Courtesy of CSArch

A rendering depicts proposed new projects for Haldane. (Courtesy of CSArch)

Projects include new student center, auditorium

A draft plan by a Newburgh architecture and engineering firm outlines $108 million in capital improvements over 15 years that would bring Haldane’s facilities in line with comparable school districts in terms of quality and size.

Haldane’s facilities are “undersized,” with only 148 square feet per student, compared to 205 square feet in similar area schools, said CSArch in a master plan presented on June 20 to the Haldane school board. The company proposes three major capital projects to be put before voters for approval. 

The first calls for a new student center with classrooms, offices and a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) lab for the high school, and a STEAM lab for the main building. It would add 18,946 square feet at a cost of $35.7 million and be presented to voters for approval next year. 

A 350-seat auditorium and music classroom built at the west end of the high school, and fitness and wellness center at the main building would be part of Phase 2. The additions would total 15,283 square feet and cost $41.7 million, with approval sought in five years. 

The final project, at 13,294 square feet and $30.4 million, includes the gymnasium and locker rooms at the high school and expansion of the art gallery in the main building. The master plan calls for approval in 10 years. 

After completion, Haldane’s total space would rise to 208 square feet, according to CSArch. Philip Benante, Haldane’s superintendent, said that the district is evaluating the tax impact of the proposed projects. He expects the board to adopt a final plan in the fall. 

“I think we have a responsibility to the community to do something,” he said. “We have short-term practical needs that need to be addressed.”

CSArch’s study of the district’s capital needs started in April 2022 and included public hearings and community surveys seeking input on the district’s needs.

The student center would rise two stories at the east end of the high school, and become a place where students could eat lunch, socialize and study. The offices would be used for support services, such  as counselors and social workers. 

The center’s STEAM lab would, like the one in the main building, be outfitted with computers and 3D printers. In addition to more space, the projects would reduce the frequency at which students have to travel between buildings, said CSArch. 

The plan also includes:

  • A new multi-purpose synthetic turf field at the Perkins/9D field area. 
  • Renovations to entry vestibules for improved security.
  • Replacement of district-wide communications systems including phone, public-address and clock systems. 
  • Smaller infrastructure improvements, such as upgraded HVAC systems, restrooms, meeting rooms, roof repairs and window replacements.
  • Before moving forward with any improvements, the Haldane school board will need to solicit feedback from the community, said Peggy Clements, the board’s vice president. Because district voters would have to approve financing, the board needs public support, she said. 

“The board members are very aware that an increase in taxes would be of concern to the community,” said Clements. “We want to move forward in the most thoughtful and responsible way possible.”

4 thoughts on “Haldane Reviews $108 Million Plan

  1. I was gobsmacked by the numbers in the proposed capital improvement plan for the Haldane school district.

    In my work as a project manager since 1993, I have estimated, built and remodeled several K-12 schools and universities. In New York City, the top end of such enterprises rarely exceeds $900 per square foot. The three phases of the capital plan for Haldane calculate to $1,884, $2,728 and $2,287 per square foot.

    Those numbers far exceed any school project in New York history; the highest recorded was $1,400 per square foot, which shocked people and stirred outrage.

    Such enterprises are beyond the pale of reason. Perhaps an extra decimal informs the planner’s budget equation?

    • I appreciate that Derek Graham took the time to review the draft of our campus master plan and I encourage other community members to do the same.

      In his calculations of the cost per square foot of our plan, Mr. Graham took the cost of Project 1 — listed as $35,731,676 — and divided it by the increase in square footage to the high school (18,946) to arrive at $1,886 per square foot.

      But it does not appear that Mr. Graham incorporated all elements of Project 1. It includes an addition to the high school but also many renovations to existing space which do not increase the square footage of our buildings. These include renovations to each building’s entry vestibule to ensure secure entry and exit of students and visitors, the renovation of several student support spaces, expanding accessibility in each of our buildings, various site-work improvements to improve vehicular and pedestrian movement throughout our campus and other improvements that are listed in detail in the plan.

      These details, including cost estimates per square foot where applicable, escalation estimates and contingencies, are listed in the appendix.

      Project 2 and Project 3 are organized in a similar manner and also include building additions and renovations. I believe the renovations and site improvements for these projects also were not factored into Mr. Graham’s analysis and led him to very high cost-per-square-foot figures.

      This fall our district will be facilitating several opportunities for community members to come to understand the proposed projects included in the campus master plan after the Board of Education has formally adopted it.

      Benante is the Haldane superintendent.

  2. It is ridiculous at this point why Garrison and Haldane schools are not combined. It would consolidate services, staff and balance the tax tiers for Philipstown school districts.

    There is also a new school tax reduction plan signed by Gov. Hochel. According to David McKay Wilson of the Journal News (“Lower Hudson Valley schools slow to adopt property-tax breaks for senior homeowners making less than $59k”):

    The outlier in Putnam is the county’s Democratic stronghold of Philipstown, where the town of Philipstown, and village of Cold Spring and Nelsonville have yet to act. The same goes for the town’s Haldane school district. Brian Kenny, who serves as assessor in Philipstown and lives there, said he advised the town board not to vote on increasing the limit. He noted that low-income seniors also qualify for the Enhanced STAR exemption, a state-financed benefit, which provided school tax savings of $1,814 there in 2022.

    “I understand that seniors and everybody needs a break,” Kenny said. “But who is paying for it? It’s you and me and the rest of the working people. They have to subsidize it. The seniors are already getting Enhanced STAR and IRA benefits. They are retired. They can go to Florida if they don’t like it.”

    You know who should be paying their fair share of taxes? The wealthy estates in Garrison and Cold Spring. Most are woefully underassessed. Take the burden from seniors and hard working modest homeowners and assess these fairly! Let’s start with Indian Brook Road. Sale in 2018 for $3.825 million had an assessed value in 2020 for $1.909 million. How could this be? It was purchased for three times the assessor’s value. I could list many others who are not paying their fair share. You want to pay for senior school tax reduction? Fund it with the extra income you would obtain taxing the wealthiest among us.

    • How about Philipstown carves out Continental Village and allows it to cede to Westchester County and be assessed at full-market value? As someone with a real-estate background, you know the incredible impact that reassessment at full-market value would have on your neighbors (and your own property). I, for one, am thankful the Philipstown assessor takes into account the reality that not everyone can handle being assessed at three quarters of a million dollars.

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