Planned daycare ends relationship with Alburgh school board

The Alburgh Family Clubhouse board of directors has terminated its relationship with the town’s school board. The building is shown here in an artist rendering. Courtesy Image

Directors of a daycare project in Alburgh ended their relationship with the town’s school board, a move that came amid a disagreement between the two groups and created some uncertainty over funding and funding. the location of the center.

Project leaders planned to build the proposed facility, called the Alburgh Family Clubhouse, on the city’s K-8 school campus. The project was also to receive funding of $ 250,000 tied to the local school district.

But last month the board said it no longer plans to build the daycare at the site, following a decision in late October to “temporarily suspend” their relationship with the school board, according to a letter. to school officials.

Clubhouse board members said they felt the school board was not moving quickly enough to resolve issues with a construction bid for the project, arguing the delays only exacerbated the need. “Desperate” of daycare centers in the city and region.

It was more feasible, they said in a statement, “to acquire private or public property in the city, without being hampered by the complexity of legal issues related to education.”

Alburgh does not have a licensed child care center.

“The superintendent’s office estimated this was going to take a lot longer than anyone had anticipated,” said Martin Giuffre, member of the board of directors of the Albburgh Family Clubhouse. “And we wanted to be able to move at a smarter pace than that. “

Michael Savage, chairman of the Alburgh School Board, said that since the project was to be located on school grounds, the construction bid had to be in accordance with the Education Agency’s guidelines. State.

But the offer did not meet all of these requirements, he said. One of the problems was that the offer was supposed to be led by the school board, but it was actually led by the North West Regional Planning Commission, which collaborated on the project.

The project managers applied for a waiver from the Education Agency which would have given them permission to go ahead with the existing offer, Savage said, but this was turned down.

“It’s not as if the tendering process resulted in the project being shut down,” said Greta Brunswick, senior planner with the North West Regional Planning Commission. “It was just that the relationship, I think, was challenged in trying to resolve these issues.”

Savage said the school board spent nearly $ 12,000 on legal fees related to the clubhouse project, with most of that going to pay for work on the waiver request.

The lawyers also drew up a memorandum of understanding that included the school board and the clubhouse, he said, although nothing was ever finalized.

The school board did not want to move forward with a memorandum of understanding until issues with the construction offer were resolved, Savage said. But the clubhouse board wanted this protocol in order to continue working with the school board.

In response to a question, Savage said he disagreed with the clubhouse’s claim that the school board had delayed the project. Still, he said he could understand the board’s frustration – the clubhouse project has been in the works for years.

“The board has never dragged its feet in any way,” said Savage. “It was basically in the hands of the lawyers at the time. We couldn’t move forward unless (the education agency) said we were ready to go, and we never got that okay.

By terminating its partnership with the school board, the clubhouse also lost access to a $ 250,000 grant from the North Frontier Regional Commission. That taken into account, the project is funded at around $ 790,000 out of the roughly $ 1 million it needs.

Giuffre said the clubhouse board will have to make up for the loss, but he’s confident that amid all the momentum to support child care at the state and federal levels, trustees will find the grants they have. need.

The board also didn’t secure a new site for the project, Giuffre said. He noted, however, that they have “a long list” of locations that they have checked.

Giuffre said he hopes construction can begin within the next six months.

Savage pointed out that although the school board is now out of the process, it continues to support the project. In fact, Giuffre said, it’s almost inevitable that the two groups will work together again once the facility is built.

“It’s really not possible to run the daycare,” Giuffre said, “without being in partnership with the school.”

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