District proposes capital project; vote planned for Tues., May 21

Fayetteville-Manlius School District officials will include a capital project proposal on the ballot during school budget vote day: Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The proposed project would address critical aging infrastructure needs and safety and security upgrades at every school building.

The $15.4 million project proposal includes work at each of the district’s six school buildings, as well as the District Office, Support Services Maintenance Building, Transportation Center and Conference Center.

Project Scope:

  • Partial roof replacements at F-M High School, Wellwood Middle School, Eagle Hill Middle School, and the District Office
  • Safety and security upgrades across all school district buildings
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) control upgrades at Fayetteville Elementary School, F-M High School, Support Services Maintenance Building, Transportation Center and Conference Center

Aged roofing is cracked and allows rainwater and snowmelt to leak through

A leak in the roof at high school has forced a garbage can to be placed on a display case in the second floor science hallway.
A leak in the roof at high school has forced a garbage can to be placed on a display case in the second floor science hallway.

the ceilings of classrooms and hallways. In an effort to mitigate the impacts on students and staff, the district’s maintenance staff have installed roof patches and in some cases, have needed to redirect leaks to drain into garbage bins.

“The roof patches are temporary and have not been as effective as we had hoped,” explained Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Brad Corbin. “We’re done patching. If we don’t replace the roofing, our only other option is to buy more garbage cans to collect water.”

The portion of the Wellwood Middle School roof that would be replaced under the proposal was not able to be included in the 2017 capital project work completed in that building. Additionally, the portion of the high school roof that would be replaced was not able to be included in the current construction project, approved by district residents in 2021.

At the time those projects were proposed, the district’s building condition surveys revealed more pressing concerns at both buildings.

More garbage cans are used to collect dripping water from a high school music classroom’s ceiling due to failing patches in the roof.
More garbage cans are used to collect dripping water from a high school music classroom’s ceiling due to failing patches in the roof.

“We were hoping to include these roofs in a future capital project vote so that we could receive more state aid, but we are no longer in a position to do that with the current condition of the roofs,” said Daniel Seidberg, F-M Board of Education and Facilities Committee member.

The New York State Education Department sets a maximum cost allowance for every instructional building within a district. That allows only a set amount of spending over a 5-year timeframe that qualifies for state building aid, per school building. Any costs that exceed the maximum cost allowance are not eligible for state funding and must be covered by the taxpayers.

“The bottom line is, we’re either going to have classrooms with leaks, or classrooms without leaks. Our teachers and our students deserve better than that, so we have to take care of this now,” added Seidberg.

In addition to the roof repairs, the project proposal would fund the highest

Leaking water has caused surrounding pipes and infrastructure to rust prematurely, as seen here in the high school art wing.
Leaking water has caused surrounding pipes and infrastructure to rust prematurely, as seen here in the high school art wing.

priority safety and security projects as identified by the district’s two safety and security audits conducted in spring 2023. That includes school building public announcements systems, which are outdated and failing. Used for announcements, the school bell schedule and emergency notifications within the school buildings, the PA system is an integral part of the district’s safety and security communications system. These safety and security updates will also provide uniformity between the school buildings.

“Infrastructure and safety upgrades are essential to ensuring students and faculty have access to an environment that promotes success,” added Superintendent Craig J. Tice. “By maintaining our facilities, we can continue to provide the educational experience and services our community expects and deserves.”

If district residents approve the proposed project on May 21, district officials expect that work would begin in summer 2025 at the earliest and be completed by September 2026.

Financial Impacts

District officials expect that state building aid would reimburse the district for about 75% of the proposed construction costs. That means for taxpayers with no STAR exemption, the estimated impact on $100,000 of taxable household value would be approximately $18.47.

The Ballot

In addition to voting on the capital project proposal on the May 21 ballot, district residents will also vote on:

  • The district’s operating budget proposal for the 2024-25 school year;
  • A school bus purchasing proposal;
  • A student serving on the board of education in a non-voting capacity (ex officio board member);
  • Three (3) district residents to serve on the board of education; and
  • Two (2) library propositions: Fayetteville Free Library and Manlius Library

More information about the May 21 vote will be available on the budget and finance section of the district website.