F-M voters approve $52 million facilities project

On Tuesday, Dec. 7, Fayetteville-Manlius School District residents approved aThis is an image of a chalkboard background with text $52 million facilities project proposal that will modernize and expand F-M High School.

The proposal passed in a 611 to 438 vote.

The capital improvement project allows for programmatic upgrades and improvements, a better connection between the school’s House 1 and 2, centralization of administrators’ and counseling offices, improved heating and ventilation throughout the school and renovations to 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 projects that improve learning spaces, building security and accessibility and ensuring that district facilities are responsive to contemporary teaching and learning needs.

“We are so grateful that our residents have authorized the district to move forward with this project,” F-M Superintendent Craig J. Tice said. “This project will provide the opportunity for Fayetteville-Manlius High School to finally meet the needs of all of its students.”

Construction is not expected to begin until spring or summer 2023. The next steps in the process include an architect design period and a state Education Department review of the final project plans.

What’s included in the project?

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

Project financials

To lessen the $52 million project’s impact on taxpayers, the district will use a combination of state building aid and money from its capital reserve fund. The district currently has a building aid ratio of about 80% for approved expenses, meaning the state would reimburse the district for about 80% of the eligible repairs and construction.

The district also plans to use $7.2 million from a capital reserve fund to reduce the amount of money to be borrowed for the project. Money for a capital reserve fund comes from general fund money that remains unspent at the end of each fiscal year. The fund is essentially like a savings account. It is limited and cannot grow larger than the amount voters authorized at the time it was established in 2017.

With the use of the capital reserve funds, it is estimated that the project will result in a tax rate increase of 1.89%, or $47.80 for a home in the town of Manlius assessed at $100,000, which would be phased in over a four-year period beginning in 2024-25. That is estimated to equate to an average per-year increase of $11.95 per $100,000 of taxable value.