WEST CHAZY - When entering the schools of the Beekmantown School District, it may be difficult to see the changes that have taken place in the past few months. However, from new floor tiles, to additional security cameras, to a new roof, the changes have been many - and were said to be well-needed.
"It's not really what a lot of people see ... but the upgrades to the facility were needed," explained project representative Don Strong, a former BCS employee. "The state of New York supplied us the money to do it."
The plans for the renovations of the four schools in the district - Cumberland Head Elementary School, Beekmantown Elementary School, Beekmantown Middle School, and Beekmantown High School - began in 2008, following the approval of the district's budget plan, which is required to receive money from the state.
"We presented to the voters last year a proposition for approving $6,655,455 towards the EXCEL project," explained superintendent Scott A. Amo. "That requires voter approval, however voter approval on it did not increase the amounts of money the taxpayers were responsible for, because it was available through the state."
EXCEL, which stands for Expanding our Children's Education and Learning, "provides funds from the state to offset costs relating to health and safety projects," according to the proposition provided by BCS.
According to Amo, every five years, the school is required to submit a Five Year Capital Improvement Plan to the state.
"We forecast out what our improvement needs are, such as when warranties are up on roofs, the plumbing and heating, et cetera," said Amo.
With the financial support from EXCEL, the district was able to tackle all the safety-related issues the school faced.
Safety is one of the major considerations by EXCEL in order for schools to be approved for the money. Others include education technology, energy, physical capacity expansion, and accessibility. Additionally, expansion and accessibility were taken into consideration by the middle school when they asked to have an additional serving line in the cafeteria.