Board members assess future facility needs

While the Fayetteville-Manlius School District has steadily completed projects included in the 2017 voter-approved capital project, the F-M Board of Education and administration have continued to evaluate the district’s ongoing facilities needs. 

“One capital project cannot address all of a district’s facilities needs for good,” Superintendent Craig J. Tice said. “Buildings age, which requires repairs; infrastructure becomes outdated and must be replaced and with evolving educational program needs comes new demands for updated or new academic spaces.”

The current $42.5 million capital project underway includes work that has been completed at Enders Road Elementary School and F-M High School with the bulk of the project focused on renovating and adding onto the district’s oldest school building, Wellwood Middle School, parts of which date back to 1933. The work at Wellwood is slated to be complete in 2022. 

The board of education’s facilities committee has been meeting to monitor the current project’s progress and determine the district’s next set of projects based on three priorities: safety, program and infrastructure. 

To be mindful of the impact of future project costs on taxpayers, board members have been assessing how much state building aid the district would be eligible to receive for each school building and reviewing when current debt from previous capital projects would be paid off.

“The timing of this next project could coincide with existing debt being retired, which would help to minimize the tax impact of the future project,” said William Furlong, the district’s assistant superintendent for business services. “The current $42.5 million capital improvement project is an important step forward, but it represents only a fraction of the overall facilities needs as indicated by the 2015 New York State Building Condition Survey.” 

The district also plans to ask voters for authorization to use money from the district’s capital reserve fund, which is like a savings account for capital projects, toward the next facilities project. 

The facilities committee is still determining the scope of a possible future project. Once it finalizes a proposal, it will make a recommendation to the full board. If the board adopts the proposal, it would then go before district voters for authorization, possibly in fall 2021. 

“We know that like the school district, many of our residents are feeling the financial hardship that the current pandemic has caused,” Tice said. “But we also know that the longer we wait to address our facility needs, the more expensive those projects will likely become.”