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F-M capital project vote: Why now?

The March 1 community vote on the Fayetteville-Manlius School District's capital project proposal is about a week away, and we know that some district voters may question whether this is the best time to propose a $10.5 million facilities investment.

The economy is challenging. Governments and school districts are facing tight budgets. And so are taxpayers.

So why is the F-M Board of Education placing this referendum before district residents now?

In short, the work is necessary, and the funding is there to allow us to complete it without raising the local tax rate.

If voters approve these projects on March 1, the entire proposal is expected to be completed using no new tax dollars. The state currently would cover 81.2 percent of the project's costs, or $7.9 million. The remaining dollars, about $2.6 million, would come from the district's capital reserve fund. This may not be the case in the future as the state may reduce the amount of building aid available to the district.

By law, state building aid and funds in the capital project reserve can only be used on capital projects, not instructional programs or services. The F-M Board of Education and district administration believe the projects included in this referendum are necessary to maintain the health and safety of our school facilities, as well as to ensure district compliance with government codes and regulations.

At Eagle Hill Middle School, the elevator continues to fail despite repeated repairs, and lockers are so narrow that students must pile large items such as backpacks on top because big items simply will not fit inside.

Aging wiring in the Wellwood Middle School fire alarm system, which is comprised of a patchwork of repairs, triggers false alarms. A new system would update the wiring and allow school officials and firefighters to precisely pinpoint the source of an alarm. This new system should reduce the amount of time students are outside waiting for the source of an alarm to be found.

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