District anticipates December 2021 vote on proposed capital project

Fayetteville-Manlius School District officials are targeting 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.

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. 

The two buildings that make up the high school were originally constructed in the 1960s. On Dec. 3, 1961, the cornerstone was set for F-M High School, which is now known as House 2.  The junior high school building was added in 1965 and became absorbed into the high school as House 1 when Eagle Hill Middle School opened in 1972.

“This project will allow F-M High School, which was originally constructed as two separate schools, to finally become a cohesive school building with logical physical connections, modernized instructional spaces and the necessary infrastructure to support those spaces and provide a safe and comfortable teaching and learning environment,” Superintendent Craig J. Tice said.

If district residents approve the proposed project in December, district officials expect that work would begin in spring 2023. The total project is anticipated to take just under four years to complete and touches nearly every part of the building, including increasing its footprint to add classroom space. 

In 2017, voters approved a capital project that included upgrading high school restrooms dating back to the 1960s, renovating and expanding its library to meet student demand and renovating the central kitchen area in the high school into needed support spaces. That work is complete, and those areas would not be touched in the proposed project. 

The Wellwood Middle School portion of the 2017 project is expected to be done by the time the proposed high school work would begin, freeing up the eight modular classrooms that have been in use at Wellwood so they could be relocated to the high school campus to be used for swing space as needed. 

Financial impacts

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 million in capital reserves, the estimated tax rate increase is projected to be 1.91%, and the estimated impact on $100,000 of taxable value would be $48.66. Voters previously approved the establishment of a capital reserve fund in May 2017.

Another way district officials plan to minimize the project’s tax impact on residents is by timing the project so any new debt from it would be realized when debt from previous capital projects would be retired in the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years. 

What’s proposed?

  • 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