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Modulars and Transportation at the Bennett and Phoenicia Schools


The modulars at Bennett and Phoenicia were owned by a corporation named Associated Construction Concepts (ACC) and have reportedly been transferred to an individual named Mr. Eratt who was the principal owner of that corporation.

A history of the leases and arrangements and board correspondence is revealing:

The first lease ran three years from 7/94 until 6/97 and cost the district $258,000 or $86,000/year.

The second lease ran from 9/97 until 8/00 and was for $132,000 or $44,000/year.

The latest lease agreements were in the following stages of negotiation when the talks broke down. The first lease offer, at this stage, was for 5 years at the rate of $31,104/year. This was built into the previous lease agreement and had to be exercised 9 months before that lease expired.

It was voted upon and unanimously approved by the Onteora Board of Education on 11/15/99 and to be effective on 9/01/00. But at Mr. Doan's urging, a disclaimer was added to the motion in order to assure the board that ACC is legally capable of doing business with the district. The disclaimer stated that approval of the lease was "subject to proof of legality that the lessor (ACC) is capable of doing business with the school district".

Discrepancies that called into question ACC's ownership of the modulars and ACC's ability to do business in NYS were the reasons for this disclaimer.

Meanwhile, on 11/19/99, the Onteora board requested and received from Eratt a 2-month extension for the District to exercise its option to renew the lease. On 2/29/00 Onteora sent a letter to Eratt stating it's intention to renew the lease on the condition that NYS tax leins were to be met by ACC.

In subsequent correspondence, Mr. Eratt, through his lawyer, claimed that ownership of the modulars would be transferred to him, from ACC. An 8/23/00 letter from the law firm of Donaghue, Thomas, Auslander and Drohan, representing the Onteora Central School District, stated that the lawyer for Mr. Eratt has proposed entering the lease agreement with Mr. Eratt who will be acquiring title to the modular units from ACC. Mr. Eratt also offered to indemnify the District for any claims or tax leins against the modulars. The District law firm researched this issue andwrote that the NYS Tax Department stated that while the tax leins would not be lifted as a result of the transfer of ACC to Mr. Eratt, the party who would bear the burden of satisfying the lein would be Mr. Eratt, the prospective owner, and not the District, as Tenant. The Onteora BOE had a Workshop Meeting on 9/11/00 and Mr. Doan submitted a document entitled exhibit "A" that states, "I do not think that we should not review the lease for another 5 years (sic). The overcrowding condition at Bennett lends a sense of urgency to address this problem within the very near future. Whatever our conclusion is, it will probably not include the use of these units as a way of reducing overcrowding."

The Onteora Board responded to Mr Eratt on September 22, 2000 by requesting that:

Mr. Eratt provides the district with a corporate resolution showing that Eratt has acquired title to the modulars from ACC.

Mr. Eratt provide the District with a performance bond or escrow account in an amount sufficient to restore the property on which the modulars have been installed in to it's original condition should the parties not renew the lease.

The District is provided with Mr. Eratt's residence address and SS number so the District can send him a 1099 form.

Mr. Eratt provides the District with proof that Mr. Eratt has clear and marketable title to the modulars. And to notify Mr. Eratt that the District will be conducting a title search to verify title on the modulars.

Mr. Eratt's lawyer responded on 9/27/00 by claiming that Mr. Eratt has "no problem providing indemnification for any claims regarding ownership..." and that Onteora's objection regarding Mr. Eratt's ownership of the buildings is "without standing". "The fact that ownership of the building has transferred from Mr. Eratt's corporation to him personally is of no consequence to your client" (Onteora). The letter from Eratt's lawyer further stated that Mr. Eratt did not object to Onteora's "request for a reasonable extension of the lease deadline and that this deadline and a more than a reasonable extension is long past". "Your client's delay has prevented my client from removing the units to another customer as now school has begun". And "Mr. Eratt has authorized me to take whatever action is necessary to effectuate return of the units".

Mr. Eratt further proposed the "only three viable alternatives" as follows:

Remove the units within 60 days or Pay $40K for the remainder of the school year and Eratt will remove them in June, 2001 or Renew the lease for 3 years at $31,000 per year.

Throughout all of the history of the leases, the Onteora School district had the option of purchasing the modulars. It was available, and stipulated in the lease, in 1999, for $120,000 but subject to voter approval.

Transportation Costs

The estimated cost of moving the Bennett kindergarten alone and busing those students to West Hurley and Woodstock will require two bus runs estimated, conservatively, at a cost to the district of $50,000 - $60,000. The cost of transporting the kindergarten students from the Phoenicia School to Woodstock and West Hurley would be conservatively estimated to be $50,000 - $60,000 per year. (A single bus run is approximately $25,000- $30,000 per year at Onteora)

If the decision is made to transport all the kindergarten students from Phoenicia and Bennett to Woodstock and West Hurley in 2001, the transportation cost alone is estimated to be over $100,000 per year. Mr. Grehl, head of the Onteora transportation department, has provided and supported these approximate figures.

The cost, in 2001, of the Bennett and Phoenicia modulars for a three-year lease is $31,000 per year as offered in the last lease negotiation with Eratt. The plan to bus the kindergarten students from Bennett and Phoenicia will cost the Onteora taxpayers an additional $69,000 per year.

As suggested at the last meeting on buildings, the shortest time frame to get NYSBOE approval and to build an addition on any of the schools is, at a minimum, 1 years after voter approval. The election is mid-May, 2001. Any addition to either Bennett or Phoenicia would not be complete until mid-November 2002. The transportation costs for this period of time would amount to approximately $130,000 whereas the cost of renting the modulars at $31,000 per year would be $93,000 for a 3-year lease but minus the cost we have already incurred for this year would bring the actual cost to $62,000 for 2 years. This would still save the district $68,000 in transportation costs during the time of construction if the modulars were kept.

Construction also requires voter approval. By keeping the modulars, if the voters do not approve a capital improvement bond, at least the classrooms would be available for the students which by the above analysis proves to be less expensive than busing to Woodstock and West Hurley.

-- Jim (me@ulster.duh), February 21, 2001.

-- Anonymous, February 25, 2001



TOWN PERCENT PETITIONERS SHANDAKEN SHANDAKEN 5.72% 41 PHOENICIA 10.88% 78 MT. TREMPER 3.91% 28 CHICHESTER 3.07% 22 BIG INDIAN 1.39% 10 HIGHMOUNT 0.56% 4 PINE HILL 0.98% 7 TOTAL 26.50% 190 OLIVE OLIVEBRIDGE 19.67% 141 WEST SHOKAN 10.18% 73 SHOKAN 21.76% 156 BOICEVILLE 10.60% 76 TOTAL 62.20% 446 WOODSTOCK BEARSVILLE 0.28% 2 WILLOW 0.42% 3 WOODSTOCK 2.93% 21 LAKE HILL 0.28% 2 TOTAL 3.91% 28

TOWN PERCENT PETITIONERS STONE RIDGE 0.17% 1 BEARSVILLE 0.34% 2 KINGSTON 0.34% 2 WILLOW 0.34% 2 HIGHMOUNT 0.69% 4 GLENFORD 1.03% 6 PINE HILL 1.20% 7 WOODSTOCK 1.20% 7 BIG INDIAN 1.72% 10 CHICHESTER 3.09% 18 WEST HURLEY 4.12% 24 MT. TREMPER 4.47% 26 SHANDAKEN 6.70% 39 BOICEVILLE 9.28% 54 WEST SHOKAN 10.65% 62 PHOENICIA 12.03% 70 OLIVEBRIDGE 20.45% 119 SHOKAN 22.16% 129 TOTAL 582

TOWN PERCENT PETITIONERS SHANDAKEN SHANDAKEN 5.72% 41 PHOENICIA 10.88% 78 MT. TREMPER 3.91% 28 CHICHESTER 3.07% 22 BIG INDIAN 1.39% 10 HIGHMOUNT 0.56% 4 PINE HILL 0.98% 7 TOTAL 26.50% 190 OLIVE OLIVEBRIDGE 19.67% 141 WEST SHOKAN 10.18% 73 SHOKAN 21.76% 156 BOICEVILLE 10.60% 76 TOTAL 62.20% 446 WOODSTOCK BEARSVILLE 0.28% 2 WILLOW 0.42% 3 WOODSTOCK 2.93% 21 LAKE HILL 0.28% 2 TOTAL 3.91% 28 HURLEY STONE RIDGE 0.14% 1 KINGSTON 0.28% 2 GLENFORD 1.81% 13 WEST HURLEY 4.60% 33 HURLEY 0.56% 4 KINGSTON 0.28% 2 TOTAL 7.67% 55 TOTAL 717

-- Anonymous, March 04, 2001

Maureen - Great Info - The above is signed petitions to retain the Indian Mascot at Onteora. What is the date these were presented?

I realize that the formatting for the bbs is a real pain but could you please further identify what the above numbers specicially refer to. I understand they are petitioner signers but what are the differences between the 2nd, 3rd and 4th paragraphs? And the totals? Thanks.

-- Anonymous, March 04, 2001

Wow! I went into a hypnotic state reading those petitioner stats...

-- Anonymous, March 05, 2001

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