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Budget expo displays Red Hook offerings to community

Irwin Goldberg
A booth at the Red Hook Budget Expo shows an Imagination Station display.

Community members visited Red Hook High School Wednesday, May 8, for the inaugural Red Hook Budget Expo.

The innovative event combined the annual budget proposal hearing with an exhibition of the many programs offered by the Red Hook Central School District. In addition to more than 50 booths, at which residents could speak with faculty and student representatives about various clubs, initiatives and learning opportunities, visitors were able to tour an electric bus and the athletic facility the district is proposing to renovate.

“We believe the Red Hook Central School District offers students and families a learning experience unlike any other in the region,” Superintendent Dr. Janet Warden said. “We are thankful so many members of the community were able to join us and see what is offered to their children and how we aim to improve that experience through our budget and capital projects.”

The district is proposing a $62.84 million 2024-25 budget and propositions that include funding to purchase electric school buses and a $14.95 million capital improvement plan.

The budget vote and school board election is May 21. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. at Mill Road Intermediate School. Early mail voting is also available this year, as are absentee and military ballots.

A booth at the Red Hook Budget Expo teaches about Greek Olympics

Visitors were welcomed to the expo with refreshments in the atrium of the high school’s Performing Arts Center, where art from Red Hook High School seniors was on display.

After the official budget hearing in the Performing Arts Center, residents were able to explore the various tables in the gymnasium where they could discuss such curriculum as the International Baccalaureate Program and project-based learning, as well as the theatre, arts, SRO and athletic programs, and others. Students performed music and visitors were able to see one of the RoboRaiders robotics team’s robots in action.

They could also explore the electric bus outside and visit the main athletic field between the high school and Linden Avenue Middle School, where Athletic Director Tom Cassata discussed the various concerns that led the district to propose many of the projects included in its capital improvement plan.

The proposal, Proposition No. 3 on the ballot, includes:

  • Installation of a multipurpose educational and athletic field.
  • Installation of new field lighting.
  • Resurfacing of the outdoor track, which is cracked and last resurfaced in 2010.
  • Improvements to the other athletic fields’ drainage system.
  • New fencing for the track and multipurpose field.
  • Replacement of the high school’s gymnasium bleachers and wall padding, and renovation of its floor.
  • New LED lighting for Red Hook High School and Mill Road elementary school.
  • Expanding and upgrading the air conditioning at Mill Road.
  • Bolstering the boiler system at Linden Avenue Middle School.
  • Expanding ease of access to the lockdown system in each school.
  • Repairs to the four front columns of the Linden Avenue building.
A booth at the Red Hook Budget Expo highlights a robotics project.

The athletic field is currently uneven, unforgiving and unable to drain rainfall adequately. It’s out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as are the gymnasium bleachers.

“Community members were able to get on the field and see for themselves the condition it’s in,” Warden said, “and why we believe upgrading the athletic facilities are necessary for ensuring all our learning spaces are safe and accessible to all students.”

State aid would cover 64.4 percent of the project, making the functional cost to taxpayers roughly $5.3 million.

Proposition 2 on the ballot asks voters to support the district spending up to $500,000 for the purchase of electric buses, with the caveat that the buses cannot cost more than $250,000 each after grant funding or other outside assistance. The proposition comes in response to a New York State mandate that will require school districts to operate only zero-emissions vehicles beginning in 2035.

For more information on the proposed school budget, propositions, Board of Education election, the voting process or how to obtain a ballot, visit the Budget Vote page on RedHookCentralSchools.org

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