Capital project proposal targets high school needs; vote scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 7

The Fayetteville-Manlius School District is asking its residents to vote on a capital project focused on modernizing and expanding F-M High  School, the district’s only high school.

“There’s not a single piece of fluff in this project,” F-M High School Executive Principal Raymond Kilmer said. “Every aspect of this project will have a direct impact on every student who walks through those doors.”

The proposed $52 million project would allow for programmatic upgrades and improvements, create a better connection between the school’s House 1 and 2, centralize administrators’ and counseling offices, improve heating and ventilation throughout the school and renovate portions of the building to better meet students’ needs.

The 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.

Residents may vote on the proposal 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7,  at Fayetteville Elementary School.

Outdated classrooms

Most high school classrooms date back to the building’s original 1960 construction. The technology rooms were designed to accommodate classes that are no longer taught and are inadequate for today’s courses, such as aerospace design and engineering, Kilmer said. Others, such as broadcast journalism and photography, are being taught in spaces not properly sized or outfitted for the equipment and technology used.

The proposal includes an approximate 4,500-square-foot addition on the corner of House 2’s science wing that is closest to the district’s conference house, which is at the intersection of Tinderbox Circle and Route 173. The addition would include two classrooms, an office, storage and a corridor connecting the new spaces to the existing first floor science wing. It would also have improved automotive access and higher ceilings.

Health focused

Students’ physical and mental health has always been a district priority, and the proposed project includes work that would benefit both. The high school lacks a centralized office suite for administrators and its counseling staff, which makes collaboration challenging. The school’s four principals are split between the two houses, and the school’s counselors, psychologists, social workers and family-school liaisons are scattered throughout the building, which requires students to travel throughout the building to receive various services.

Consolidating counseling services into one designated area near the administrators’ and nurse’s offices would allow staff to more efficiently collaborate and meet. The new office spaces would be located near the high school main entrance by the auditorium so when family members or visitors meet with school staff, they will not have to traverse throughout the school as they do now.

With counseling staff located in one centralized area, students would have more convenient and confidential access to mental health support, and because the counseling center would provide academic and mental health services, no one would know for what reason a student may be visiting the counseling center.

The project proposal also includes major heating and ventilation upgrades, allowing for improved air circulation and air conditioning throughout the building. Temperatures fluctuate throughout House 1 and 2, adversely impacting the learning environment. Students report it is often difficult to focus if they are too hot or too cold.

A better connection

Since House 1 and 2 were built as separate schools later joined by a second floor walkway, there is no centralized connection point between the two. The proposal calls for an expansion and renovation of the existing cafeteria, converting it into a two-story multipurpose space that would serve as the connector hub between the two houses. The project also includes a new broadcast journalism classroom and learning support center that will better serve students and teachers.

“We’re trying to create a unified school,” Kilmer said. “This project will provide the opportunity for Fayetteville-Manlius High School to finally meet the needs of all of its students.”

More information about the proposed project is available online.