FAIR HAVEN — The Slate Valley school district plans to ask voters to bond about $60 million for maintenance and upgrades to the high school, as well as the construction of a new wing to house middle schoolers.
Brooke Olsen-Farrell, superintendent of the Slate Valley Unified Union School District, said in a Friday interview Fair Haven Union High School is in need of significant upgrades to every aspect of its operation, from Americans with Disabilities Act compliance to the boiler system, which was installed in 1957.
Olsen-Farrell said this is part of the Slate Valley Innovation Project, aspects of which have been in play since last fall.
She said the new wing would house students in Castleton Village School. That school, she said, would then be leased to Castleton University, which has an early childhood program. The university, she said, has supplied the school district with a letter of interest.
The entire project wouldn’t be completed until 2023 at the earliest, she said. What would likely happen is the new wing would be built first, then used to house high schoolers while the high school was upgraded.
Ultimately, costs will be saved by consolidating the middle school students, said Olsen-Farrell. This might lead to a reduction in staff, but the district would seek to achieve that through attrition throughout the course of the project.
She said the $60 million is an estimate at this point. It might be less given how the design efforts have been going.
Assuming this were all happening today, the effect on the tax rate would be an increase of $33 annually to the tax bill of a resident making $50,000 per year. Olsen-Farrell said about 80% of the district’s taxpayers have their education property taxes affected by income sensitivity. The other 20%, if the resident paid taxes on a $100,000 property, would see a tax bill increase of $179.
Olsen-Farrell said the plan is to have the bond question ready for voters at Town Meeting Day, but it’s possible to schedule it later if necessary.
There will be a tour of Fair Haven Union High School for those who want more information about the project.
According to a statement released by the district, the tour is set for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 20.
Julie Finnegan, chairwoman of the Slate Valley District board of directors, said Friday the district will reach out to local social clubs and organizations to help inform voters about the project as its details undergo refinement. She believes bringing the facilities up in quality will save money over the long run and attract people to the area.