What They Are Saying About the Capital Project

Teachers, staff, parents and community members have been learning about the proposed capital project through public meetings, videos and other information. Here is what they are saying about the project, which will be voted on by residents on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 as part of the annual Budget Vote and Board Election.

Jaimee Kusche with student

“As a teacher at Green Meadow Elementary School for the past 20 years, I’ve witnessed firsthand the incredible potential of our students. I wholeheartedly support the upcoming capital project. Investing in our school’s infrastructure is an investment in our children’s future. Some of the things that I am looking forward to are improved library media centers, air conditioning, and a new playground for our students. By supporting this capital project, we’re ensuring a nurturing and stimulating learning environment that empowers every child to reach their full potential.”

Jaimee Kusche
4th Grade Teacher – Green Meadow Elementary School

Liz Corey teaching a student at Genet Elementary School

“I am overjoyed that the Capital Project will include a proposal for air conditioning for all elementary schools. Air conditioning in a special education classroom is one of the keys to assisting in students being and feeling regulated. Having taught my same students in rooms with and without air conditioning, I see the tremendous benefits of what a cool, calm space can do for student learning. Without air conditioning, we have several full months of teaching and learning (usually all of September, May, and June) that can have some pretty high temperatures, making focus, comfort, and regulation difficult. Air conditioning in all elementary classrooms would make those critical days of learning much more productive!”

Liz Corey
Special Education Teacher – Genet Elementary School

“Simply stated, our schools are old. Like an old house, they need regular maintenance, upkeep and replacement of equipment that is past its useful lifespan. They need alterations both inside and out to meet current and future needs. The work that is needed is simply on a grander scale. The costs of construction are going up exponentially, and that is why it is critical to perform this project now. Every year that passes we get less and less for our money.”

Paul Bickel
Director of Facilities

James McHugh speaking from podium

“Transforming our school’s infrastructure isn’t just about renovating buildings; it’s about investing in our students’ future, fostering a conducive environment for learning, and nurturing a sense of pride and community that extends far beyond the walls of our classrooms and playing fields.”

James McHugh
Interim Principal – Howard L. Goff Middle School

“We are thrilled that the District is prioritizing our school libraries in the upcoming Capital Project building renovation plans. Current educational research shows that well-staffed dynamic library spaces increase student academic achievement and reading scores. Our district is leading the way in New York State in that each of our school libraries is staffed with a full-time librarian to support the academic needs of our students. Now it’s time that our physical libraries reflect our district’s dedication to academic excellence. The renovations of our school libraries K-12 will scaffold students to grow into intelligent, confident, and compassionate young people who can succeed in all of their future endeavors.”

Kate Banks
Librarian – Columbia High School

“Our district will benefit immensely from this Capital Project. As a union leader, my main reason to support this project is that having air conditioning for our elementary teachers, staff, and students will be absolutely amazing. It seems like each year the months of September, October, May, and June are just hotter and hotter, so air conditioning is now a necessity. The improvements to our libraries, athletic fields, and classrooms will benefit all of our members, students, staff and families. On top of that, to improve and maintain our buildings without raising taxes will be a huge benefit to our community. Supporting this Capital Project is win-win situation for all involved!

Dan Wagner
Social Studies Teacher – Columbia High School
Secondary Vice President – East Greenbush Teachers Association

“The Capital Project proposes the opportunity to bring incredible upgrades to our entire school district. This project isn’t only addressing the needs within the aging buildings of our school community, but also focuses on necessary upgrades for athletic facilities, outdoor spaces and playgrounds that are utilized by our Pre-K-12 students, athletic teams, and community members. A major focus for our outdoor facilities will be wholesale upgrades to the space behind Goff Middle School; adding a multipurpose turf field and track facility, adding playing courts, improving drainage on the surrounding grass spaces and creating parking areas that will make this area more accessible. Another important aspect of the project will be upgrades to facilities at Columbia High School to improve usage, safety and meet the needs of the Interscholastic athletic teams. Improvements to the tennis courts and outdoor basketball courts will also be addressed in the project, not only benefiting our students, but providing a safe playing area for the many community members that utilize these spaces. This project has the opportunity to address major needs and improvements district-wide that wouldn’t be possible in the annual operating budget.”

Ryan Jones
Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics

Helen Squillace in her office

“Our capital project is an investment in our children’s education and our community’s future. It is important that our learning and community spaces reflect our district’s designation as the top school district in the Capital Region. With the installation of central air conditioning, the revitalization of our library media spaces, and installation of safe and accessible playgrounds, we’re not just enhancing infrastructure; we’re nurturing an environment where learning thrives, ensuring our students and community flourish together.”

Helen Squillace
Principal – Red Mill Elementary School

Karla McDowell - Friends of Music

“I am genuinely impressed with the Capital Project proposed improvements and how timely the project is being rolled out. These are current and future needs that can be addressed right now without the impact on the taxpayers. I recall the year that we went to enroll our current senior in 2011. This was the year when the Board of Education was forced to propose a half-day Kindergarten program due to projected cuts. The board meetings were packed – I mean standing room only. No one wanted to agree to a half-day Kindergarten program or the other severe cuts; but the current fiscal climate was bleak. Fortunately, none of these cuts had to occur but the concern is something that won’t be forgotten by the parents who endured this situation.

When I heard the Superintendent’s discussion about the Capital Project, I could only think ‘How far we have come!’  Our current senior is our 4th graduate of Columbia High School and he utilized the campus and athletic programs more than our other three children combined. The improvements that were in development when our older children were in school became our senior’s reality. This Capital Project is paving the way for future generations – and these improvements will help to prepare them for college, career and sustainable employment. As a taxpayer, parent, and educator in a neighboring school district, I applaud the East Greenbush Central School District’s collaborative and forward-thinking approach. I hope other stakeholders also see the benefits of this proposal as well.”

Karla McDowell
Parent/Co-President of East Greenbush Friends of Music

“When the outdoor temperature starts to turn up, air conditioning can be a big game-changer! A cool and comfortable classroom doesn’t just keep students happy – it will help them concentrate better and learn more effectively, in turn allowing them to be able to perform at their fullest potential.”

Misty Hayes
4th Grade Teacher – Red Mill Elementary School

“We’re looking forward to the new air conditioning providing a comfortable climate for students to learn in. It will help all students, especially for those with asthma and other health concerns.”

Sarah Tacy, RN
School Nurse – Donald P. Sutherland Elementary School

Jeffrey Simons speaking from podium

“This project looks to secure a bright future for our students and our community. With the support of our residents, as we retire debt we seek to make use of the state funding that is available now to modernize our educational spaces, improve health and safety for students and enhance our athletic facilities within the community. We can accomplish all of this without any additional impact on our taxpayers.”

Jeff Simons
Superintendent of Schools

“I am excited about the advancements the capital project will bring. From improved heating and cooling which will make the elementary classrooms more comfortable and conducive to learning, to the classroom additions which will provide more space at the elementary level, there is so much to look forward to. Many of the proposed changes will work to make our buildings more physically accessible to all students. Our much needed playground renovations will allow students of all abilities to have fun with their friends at recess. In addition, the proposed plans to upgrade media spaces and add onto existing therapy spaces will allow East Greenbush to be a more inclusive learning environment for all students.”

Kathryn Biel, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist – Bell Top, Genet and Green Meadow Elementary Schools

“One of the best parts of living in East Greenbush is the excellence of our school district. The proposed capital project is smart, well-planned, and absolutely essential for keeping our school district at the pinnacle of public education in the Capital Region. I applaud the School Board and Superintendent Jeff Simons and his staff for their attention to detail, and their recognition that the modernization of a physical plant is a never-ending process that requires a significant capital investment in the present to prevent a much greater investment later.

Over the years, many residents have commented to me that the building and grounds of Goff Middle School are under-utilized and offer much potential for development. Among many other improvements, the Capital Project will rectify the situation and make Goff a model for middle schools in the region. From a community perspective, the Capital Project will make this an even nicer town with expanded amenities and opportunities for children to engage in a vast range of activities that are both healthy and educational. One of my goals as Town Supervisor has been to establish a closer working relationship between the town and the school district. This has been made easy by the professionalism of the current administration, and the intelligence of the proposals they have advanced. The Capital Project is a perfect example of this. I look forward to casting my personal vote in favor of the Capital Project and urge everyone to take a close look at what’s being proposed because it will remind you that it’s not an accident that we have the best school district in the Capital Region! They deserve our continued support.”

Jack Conway
Supervisor – Town of East Greenbush

Officer Ed Ashley

“To me the capital project looks to be a well balanced proposal inclusive of safety, infrastructure, environmental, athletic and future learning needs of the district. I’m impressed by the financially responsible approach of using expiring debt and planning for the future in a way that doesn’t overburden taxpayers. I’m most looking forward to the improved entrance to Columbia High School and a safe sidewalk for the many students who walk to various after school opportunities nearby.”

Officer Ed Ashley
School Resource Officer – Columbia High School

“The EGTA is in support of the Capital Project. It is a vital opportunity for the community to support making our schools what they ought to be in the 21st century. The improvements proposed will offer our teachers and related service providers better working conditions with which to facilitate learning. Additionally, as educators, we know that our students need to have their basic needs met in order to be able to learn; air quality improvements and air conditioning at our elementary buildings is a necessity, as temperatures continue to rise each year. The community can help show support and appreciation for our educators by approving the Capital Project. Every budgetary dollar spent on inevitable repairs in the coming years has the potential to erode our ability to fund and maintain the exceptional faculty and programming this community has come to expect.”

Alison Savoca
Art Teacher – Columbia High School
President – East Greenbush Teachers Association

“The capital project is a wonderful benefit to not only the students and staff within the district, but also the community of East Greenbush. As a parent of young children, the capital project represents a brighter future for them as they progress through the schools. Modernizing all of the buildings helps ensure every student can reap the benefits. There was a clear emphasis on the student’s overall well-being when developing plans. The installation of central air in the elementary schools, updating the elementary playgrounds, creating more classroom space and enhancing the Goff and Columbia athletic fields are some of the highlights. With no added cost to the taxpayer, this is no-brainer, in my opinion, to support on May 21st.”

Holly Gialanella
Parent/PTO President of Green Meadow Elementary School

Director of Business and Finance Jennifer Mulligan
“I am thrilled about the investment in education and the financial benefits that this capital project will bring to our community. This initiative is a cornerstone of our commitment to providing high-quality education while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

From a financial perspective, the benefits of this project are substantial. One of the most compelling aspects is the project’s tax-neutral impact. We have strategically planned the financing to ensure that it does not increase the tax burden on our local taxpayers. By leveraging state building aid and carefully aligning our debt service payments, we can fund this project without requiring additional local taxes. Additionally, the project will capitalize on significant state aid, covering an estimated 72% of eligible costs. It is anticipated that approximately 84% of the costs will be eligible for aid. This external funding reduces the overall financial burden on our district and our taxpayers, allowing us to undertake these essential improvements in a cost-effective manner. This approach reflects our steadfast commitment to fiscal prudence.

Furthermore, addressing facility needs proactively through this capital project will help us avoid the higher costs associated with emergency repairs and system failures. This preventive maintenance approach not only extends the lifespan of our facilities but also ensures a safer and more conducive learning environment for our students and staff.”

Jennifer Mulligan, CPA
Director of Business and Finance

“As a member of the East Greenbush community, we are excited for the Capital Project and all the opportunities that it presents for the entire school district and its residents. The proposed upgrades to the athletic facilities and outdoor spaces will help foster a greater partnership between the school district and the community by providing additional resources for local organizations to leverage the school district’s athletic facilities. The East Greenbush Central School District has been very supportive of our organization, the local athletes, and we would love the opportunity to further utilize these improved facilities so that we can continue to provide organized soccer offerings to the youth within our community.”

Craig Mingle
Greenbush Soccer Club