Albany school board starts over for high school renovations plan

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The proposal Albany voters saw on their ballots last week to rebuild and renovate a new high school has been shot down.

Proposition One called for a complete renovation of Albany High School, including an indoor track, a new student dining facility, and an automotive technology wing. But the plan and its nearly $200 million price tag were rejected by area taxpayers.

Now, the school board and superintendent are back to the drawing board as the planning process begins again. However, they said better communicating the specifics of the project will be key.

“The state was going to be putting in about $124 million, so the money is there,” Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard said. “So I don’t know where else to go for money but my citizens.”

The $124 million would have been 63 percent of the $196 million proposed budget for remodeling the high school. But now the much needed renovations are even further away.

“That’s where I think I struggled,” Vanden Wyngaard said. “I don’t think I gave that message very well. I think some people believed that they were actually paying the entire $196 million, and I’ve got to do better with that.”

Some people were worried that if the school’s performance didn’t improve, it would be taken over by the state taking away local influences on the school. As a result, some felt their tax dollars would be wasted. But Vanden Wyngaard said that’s more miscommunication.

“The high school would still move forward, and the receiver is hired by the school board,” she explained. “So while that individual, that company, or that group may be external, it does have a direct relationship with the school board.”

Currently, the school board is back to the drawing board, but whatever happens next, will be based on a school board decision.

“Whether to move forward, whether to recreate the plan, come with a new number, anything is available,” the superintendent said.

Members of the school board were not available for comment, but their next meeting is November 19. It is unknown if the issue will be on the agenda, but the meeting is open to the public.

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