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Skaneateles forum 1-30-19

Skaneateles Central School District Superintendent Lynda Quick speaks at a community forum at Skaneateles High School auditorium Wednesday.

SKANEATELES — Skaneateles Central School District Superintendent Lynda Quick went over the district's past, present and future at a community forum Wednesday night.

Safety and security has been a major priority for the district, Quick said, as every school except for State Street Elementary School has the same layers of security meant to stop visitors from reaching student areas without hitting additional security. State Street, which already has the buzzer system the other buildings do, will receive the other security upgrades in a $100,000 capital outlay project set to be completed by April.

Other recent upgrades include a "swipe card" access system that staff can use to get their exterior doors, according to a slide show presentation from Quick. This allows for a decreased reliance on keys for building access while administrators can monitor who is getting into the building. Cards that staff lose can also be deactivated quickly. Door sensors on exterior doors let appropriate staff know if a door is left ajar or propped open, the presentation said.

Other security measures include school resource officers Aileen Sherman and James O'Brien. The retired state troopers have been brought back through June. The school board has been approving the officers in six month increments, Quick said, adding that the district is still assessing its best options for safety and security.

"They understand us, and they're a great fit here," Quick said.

Quick also offered updates on Project 2021, the $36.5 million capital project community members approved in November 2017. The project's name refers to the year a piece of the district's mortgage on the endeavor will be paid off. It is slated to include reconstruction and various improvements for the district's buildings. The project's first phase has received state approval, with it set to go up to bid in February 2019 and the first phase finishing in the summer. The second phase has been submitted to the state in the hopes of bidding by the fall and beginning work by spring 2020.

Highlights of the project include a press box, new windows in the middle school and high school, improvements to the high school auditorium and the middle school gym being demolished and rebuilt, complete with retractable stage and bleachers, Quick said.

Quick said the district is in good shape financially, citing the district's placement under the state comptroller's Fiscal Stress Monitoring System. Factors such as a district's short-term borrowing, year-end fund balance and operating deficit patterns go into determining a district's score, a press release from the comptroller's office said. The closer to zero a district's score is, the less fiscal stress a district has. Skaneateles received a fiscal stress score of 3.3 for 2018, indicating low stress. Quick said after the forum the district hasn't determined a possible tax levy for the 2019-20 school year.

Parent Rene Van Kersbergen, who attended the forum and said his family recently moved to the area specifically for the school district, said he liked what he heard at the event.

"I think it's showing a good plan for the future. One of the big things you always want to hear is whether they're being fiscally responsible," Van Kersbergen said. "To me, when they're fiscally conservative,  then they're already heading in the right direction."

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Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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Education Reporter