Ken Slentz has been working on the Skaneateles Central School District's proposed capital project, in one way or another, since he became superintendent over three years ago.
A capital project was voted down in April 2014, and the board of education told him about the need for another when he started that July, he said. Taxpayers will be able to vote on Project 2021 Tuesday. The districtwide endeavor, currently set at a cost to not exceed $36.5 million, would involve reconstruction and upgrades for the district's buildings. Slentz said the project wouldn't put an extra tax burden on the community.
Over time, the district has tried to disseminate details of the project and assuage community concerns through various mediums, including social media, its website, emails, videos, PowerPoint, community forums and tours of what would be affected by the project. He said he has also met with community members to talk about their concerns or skepticism.
"We've tried to cover every possible communication medium," Slentz said.
Slentz believes the district has done a "decent" job of getting its message out to community members, but he's still wary of misinformation that people might have come across. The district has worked to react to misinformation or skepticism about the project through various communications, he said.
With Skaneateles community members being involved with matters in their own lives, they only have so much time to deal with other priorities, he said. As a result, he said, people might not always prioritize the information from the district's communications.
Several items the project would address are considered high priorities for the district due to health and safety concerns or are at or past their warranties.
"The biggest concern is that our buildings are safe, healthy and secure (for students and staff)" Slentz said.
Slentz said the amount of water in the basement of Waterman Primary School has caused steel to rot, so a substructure within the basement and beneath the front entrance of the building was built a few weeks ago.
"That floor bounced when you walked on it. It does not bounce anymore," Slentz said.
The community's share of the project is currently set to be around $12 million, to be paid off over 18 years. The payment schedule had previously been 20 years, due to change in scope at Waterman. It is anticipated the project will be eligible for around $22 million in state aid. The district also has $2,250,000 in capital reserves and a $110,784 gift set aside for the press box. The district's calculations have been based on an estimate of 95 percent of the project being eligible for state aid.
The endeavor's scope includes remedying a campus-wide drainage system, replacing Waterman Primary School's 1972 boiler, reconstructing the middle school's gym, replacing the high school's windows from 1986, fixing the primary school's leaking foundation, establishing energy efficiency in the classrooms and replacing sections of each school building's roof at the end of or past their warranties, among other items.
The Project 2021 name refers to the year a piece of the district's mortgage on the undertaking will be paid off.
Taxpayers will be able to vote on the project from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the Skaneateles Central School District Office, 45 E. Elizabeth St.