Residents of the North Syracuse Central School District will head to the polls next month to vote on a $2 million referendum to renovate the Michael Bragman Athletic Complex at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, as well as make improvements to the high school’s security.
The project, which will have no local tax impact, will cost a total of $2,020,000. The local share of $302,000 would come out of the district’s C-NS Athletic Complex Reserve Fund, which was approved by district voters on Oct. 14, 1998, according to Assistant Superintendent for Management Donald Keegan.
“Basically, it was a formal proposition in which the voters designated that funds could be set aside for the replacement of the turf,” Keegan said. “The source of those funds was the revenue received from the exclusive pouring rights contract we had with Coca-Cola at the venue. It also had a maximum on it; we couldn’t contribute more than $250,000. From the perspective of the taxpayers, you don’t want it to be a bottomless pit.”
With interest, the fund has grown over the last 15 years to $304,000. That fund, along with anticipated state aid totaling $1,718,000, will cover the costs of the project. The project includes necessary repairs to the athletic complex next to the high school, including replacing the deteriorating turf, resurfacing the track and replacing the drainage work under the field.
The referendum comes at a time when the district has undergone extensive budget cuts over the last five years, trimming more than 200 teachers, as well as numerous athletic and extracurricular programs. But the money in the reserve fund could not be used for programs or staffing.
“Because the voters designated that money had to be used for the turf, we can’t use it for anything else,” Keegan said.
And the turf certainly needs the repair. According to the district’s website, the turf has long outlasted its life expectancy of eight years. At this point, despite the district’s best efforts, the field has deteriorated to the point that maintenance costs have more than quadrupled.
“We’re in a real pickle now, because that turf really needs to be replaced,” Keegan said. “If it’s not replaced, the facility is going to have to be closed.”
The capital project also includes security upgrades at the high school.
“The part of the project that often gets overlooked, and I think it’s one of the most important elements, is installing intruder locks in all classrooms at the high school,” Keegan said. “In our post-Newtown security survey, the number-one thing our teachers wanted was the ability to lock their classroom doors in a hurry. So this upgrade allows those doors to be shut and locked from the inside with any school-issued key, not necessarily the key for that classroom. So if you’re running down the hall, you can duck into a classroom and lock the door with any school-issued key and be safely locked inside. And you can get in with the key to that particular room, the specific classroom key. This will keep our students and our staff safe, so we’re really excited about that.”
The district will hold a public information session at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the district office. Voter registration will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. that day, as well as during regular business hours leading up to the referendum vote. The vote itself will take place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the district’s regular polling places. If approved, construction is set to begin in May. Keegan said it should be completed by December 2014.
For more information about the referendum, visit nscsd.org/district.cfm?subpage=49410.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.