Board discussion focuses on capital project proposal

Fayetteville-Manlius School District officials continue to plan a capital project that would impact each and every one of its students.

F-M officials are targeting a date in early December 2021 for its next capital project vote, which will include a proposal to provide infrastructure and programmatic space upgrades to F-M High School, the one school building that all F-M students attend before graduating.

Conversations about the project proposal continued during the Sept. 13 F-M Board of Education meeting.

“We recognize that it’s a large project, but the high school is our biggest building and one that all of our students attend,” board member Daniel Seidberg said. “The project touches almost every part of this building – and to the benefit of the educational program that our staff can deliver.”

The $52 million project proposal aligns with the district’s 2020-23 Strategic Plan, which includes a focus on capital improvement projects that improve learning spaces, building security and accessibility and ensuring that district facilities are responsive to contemporary teaching and learning needs.

“There’s not a single piece of fluff in this project,” F-M High School Executive Principal Raymond Kilmer said during the meeting. “Every part of this project will have a direct impact on students.”

District officials expect that the state would reimburse the district for about 80% of the proposed construction costs directly related to instruction. The district plans to ask voters in December to also approve the district’s use of capital reserve funds to reduce the total amount the district would finance. If the district uses $7.2 million in capital reserves, the estimated tax rate increase is projected to be 1.89%, and the estimated impact on $100,000 of taxable value would be $47.80, which is lower than what district officials first estimated.

The increase would be phased in over a four-year period, beginning with the 2024-25 school year. It equates to an average per-year increase of $11.95 per $100,000 of taxable value.

“The district will have quite a bit of debt fall off during the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years,” F-M Assistant Superintendent for Business Services William Furlong said. “This will partially offset the project’s tax impact.”

Kilmer said that in addition to programmatic upgrades and improvements, the project would unify a school community that’s currently spread between two separate buildings, centralize offices and renovate portions of the building to better meet students’ needs.

“Even if we just talk about eating, right now our cafeteria can only accommodate 200 students,” Kilmer said. “If every single student wants a lunch period, we would have to offer seven lunch periods beginning at 8:30 a.m.”

At the conclusion of the discussion, F-M Superintendent Craig J. Tice said project posters highlighting the proposal details will soon be on display in district buildings even though the board of education plans to take official action at their regularly-scheduled meeting on Oct. 4, 2021.

The project proposal includes:

  • Consolidated main office suite and new nurse’s office adjacent to the single-point of entry near the auditorium
  • New elevator and staircase by House 2 main entrance
  • Addition to House 2 that would create a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) wing
  • Two-story cafeteria addition and renovation with hallways to connect House 1 and 2 to improve the pedestrian traffic flow and building security
  • New learning support center adjacent to the expanded cafeteria
  • New broadcast journalism space adjacent to the auditorium
  • New auxiliary gym adjacent to the wellness center
  • New photography instructional space adjacent to the art classrooms
  • Auditorium acoustical upgrades
  • Stadium turf replacement
  • Major mechanical system upgrades
  • Fire alarm and public address system upgrades
  • New fire lane around the back of the building
  • Sidewalk and asphalt replacement
  • Asbestos abatement
  • HVAC replacement to improve ventilation and air filtration including the addition of air conditioning in House 2
  • Classroom renovations and enhancements