MAHOPAC, N.Y. - In an effort to become more efficient and possibly save money, the Mahopac Board of Education is mulling a plan that would consolidate its district offices under one roof.
Board Vice President Michael Mongon, who is also chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, said at last week’s school board meeting that Tetra Tech, an engineering and architectural firm used by the district, has completed a study on how that could best be accomplished. The initial plan would be to move the district offices on Croton Falls Road and the Buildings and Grounds Department facility on Secor Road to the former Mahopac Falls Elementary School (aka the Falls School) on Myrtle Avenue.
Mongon said the idea for such consolation dates back to when he ran for school board two years ago.
“When I ran, I talked about creating a pleasing environment and I noticed how fractured the administration was,” he said. “We have assistant superintendents at the Falls School and at the district offices, and we have staff at Secor. It seemed like we were scattered around a bit. It felt like we needed to tighten things up and get closer to the middle school and high school and create a type of hub where we could have those nice casual collisions [between staff].”
Mongon said the space at the current district office on Croton Falls Road is filled to capacity.
“We are maxed out at district office; we have 19 staff members sharing about 6,000 square feet,” he said. “I think we can do better and create a nice environment where parents and constituents can come and meet, and we can still create an element of privacy.”
The idea, Mongon said, is to create an administrative campus where there can be more face-to-face collaboration.
“There is value in that and there could be some cost savings, as well. It’s a win-win for all,” he said. “We want an environment where everyone can get together and collaborate.”
Mongon said that Tetra Tech presented the Buildings and Grounds Committee with a site map of the Falls building that shows how the new offices could be configured.
“They did an excellent job. They outlined in detail how this could be accomplished with what we already have there,” he said. “We have the BOCES Academy and a couple of daycares there right now and we wanted to see if we can get everyone under one roof without disturbing them and it looks like we could do it.”
Mongon stressed that the plans are only preliminary. He said the next step would be to perform a cost analysis of the move and any needed renovations.
“We have to put a dollar amount on it,” he said. “There are traffic issues to look at and we want to look at the energy costs. What we want to do is be more efficient and create an amazing environment and bring the 22 (19 from the district offices, three from Secor Road) staff members to join the eight who are already there.”
Mongon also addressed rumors that consolidating administrative offices into the Falls building would displace the Transportation Department, which is already housed there, and force those employees to work out of a trailer.
“The Transportation Department is intact and we are not touching it,” he said. “There is no reason to. In the plan we have now, it stays the same. It fits there beautifully. There are plenty of other areas at the school where we can [place administrative offices].”
As for the buildings on Croton Falls Road and Secor Road that would be abandoned if the consolidation plan comes to fruition, Mongon said their fate is still up in the air.
“We would have to take a look at that a little further,” he said. “I don’t know what might become of them.”
Asked whether selling those properties to defray the cost of the consolidation was feasible, Mongon said the idea has merit.
“Selling is a possibility, but it’s something we haven’t even discussed yet,” he said. “This is all still in the very preliminary stages.”
Mongon said his committee is touring all the schools and buildings on district properties to see where else upgrades and improvements are needed. He said the bus garage next to the Falls School is next on the list.
“The bus garage is somewhat of a dinosaur and we have to start looking at it,” he said. “These buses are looked at every 30 days and inspected. And we have washing needs, the chassis and so on. You have to protect your investments.”