Monday, April 21, 2014 - 5:58:19 AM

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In The Home Stretch for New Owego Elementary

The two year long process of starting to rebuild the Owego Elementary School is in the home stretch.

All that is left before construction can start is voter approval of a referendum.

The referendum asks voters to authorize the issuance of bonds (long-term debt) totally $9.6-million to finance a portion of the coast of the new school, and to authorize spending $1.54-million from the district's capital reserve fund.

The rest of the project is funded through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (62.4%), New York State State Emergency Management (20.8%), and New York State School Building Aid (13%).

The school was flooded out and destroyed from the flood of 2011.

Since then, the school was relocated to the vacant Lineaus West Elementary in Endicott.

Owego Elementary first grade teacher and parent of two children of the school Stacey Silvesteri, said she can't wait for the school to reopen in Owego.

"My kids are on the bus up to two hours a day, so the sooner we can get in our new building the happier I'll be," said Silvesteri.

Some concerns going into Tuesday night's public meeting was how this project would be funded, specifically an increase in a tax levy.

Superintendent Dr. Bill Russell put those concerns at ease.

"We're very proud that we've put a funding package together that does not include any new taxes for the payers in Owego-Apalachin school district.  This is very important to a community that's gone through what we've gone through," said Russell.

Another question raised before the meeting was why build the school where the old one flooded.

Russell said the new school will be building on fill four feet above the 500 year flood plain to protect the new state of the art school from flooding.

There will be another public information meeting on the referendum Tuesday October 15th at Owego Free Academy in the large group instruction hall.

The referendum vote will be Tuesday, October 22nd.  The polls will be open from noon to 8p.m. at Apalachin Elementary School and Owego Free Academy.

If the voters approve, construction will start as soon as November, and be open fall 2015.


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