By Hayleigh Gowans
The Fayetteville-Manlius School District has been working hard to identify the most needed facilities repairs and updates to all six of the district buildings — and this fall a public vote on phase 1 of the list of needed projects may finally come to fruition.
If approved by the school board in September, a referendum vote for a capital project to make updates to Wellwood Middle School, Enders Road Elementary and F-M High School could be put to voters sometime this fall.
“Although we’ve moved slowly, we’ve endeavored to be transparent, thoughtful and to provide as much information because of the fact we know this project is going to be different,” said Superintendent Craig Tice. “We are investing in the infrastructure of our school district. It’s for the public good and we know we need to work hard to be transparent so the community understands the needs and why we’re doing this capital project. This will impact kids; it’s an investment in the future.”
In 2015, a Building Conditions Survey (BCS) was conducted which assessed all six of the district’s facilities and listed needed repairs, which is estimated at $100 million, said Tice.
During the summer of 2016, a survey to assess the community views of areas to focus on in facilities planning was conducted, and in the fall of 2016, various options for making necessary repairs were presented. A Community Facilities Task Force comprised of nearly 40 members of the F-M community was created to review the options presented and report their thoughts on them to the board.
The BCS showed the three district buildings in most need to repairs and upgrades were Wellwood Middle School, Enders Road Elementary and the high school, and these are the buildings that will be the focus of the next capital project.
The scope of the capital project would include: about $33.8 million at Wellwood to renovate the 1933 wing, new HVAC system, a new roof and windows, an addition to replace basement space and ADA compliance standards; about $3 million at Enders Road Elementary to replace the boilers and add classrooms; and about $4.9 million at the high school to replace boilers, update the main office and nurse suite, the LGI and bathrooms.
Tice said it is important to note these projected figures are estimates, and the $100 million total of repairs will be tackled over time. One reason for splitting the facilities planning into phases is to lessen the impact to taxpayers, said Tice, and retiring debt services from past capital projects and a capital reserve that was approved by voters will also go towards lessening tax impact.
“The good news is this district, over the past decade, has tackled capital projects that have been at little or no cost to the taxpayer,” said Tice. “The bad news is that over the last decade, the district has done capital projects at little or no cost to the taxpayer. It’s just this will be the first one I’m worried the community will have some sticker shock.”
In addition to the facilities planning, Tice said the F-M Board of Education is looking at entering an energy performance contract (EPC) to complete necessary repairs, such as LED lighting and HVAC system upgrades, to complement future capital projects.
Recently, Tice said documents on the capital project and the Instructional Space Report was delivered to the New York State Education Department, and they should be able to give a better figure of the maximum cost allowance for the project and how much state aid the district will receive by Labor Day.
Once the school administration can get a better estimate of what the tax impact to residents may be, the board of education will likely discuss it at the Sept. 11 board meeting and may vote to move forward with the referendum vote. The referendum vote could be put to district residents as early as November, said Tice.
Tice said if a referendum vote is upcoming the district will want to provide as much information as possible to the voters. Throughout the process, school administration has been utilizing an online feedback tool, Let’s Talk, to hear and respond to the community’s questions about the facilities, and a section of the school’s website has been dedicated to providing information about the facilities planning (fmschools.org/facilities).
As for a timeline of the capital project if it is approved by voters, Tice said the earliest construction would occur is in spring of 2020.
To learn more about the facilities planning and to see associated documents, go to fmschools.org/facilities. To give feedback, go to fmschools.org/let’stalk.
I am a reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican at Eagle News. I report on topics ranging from town and village government, business, news and features.
I am a 2014 graduate of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and have a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology.