Weedsport Central School District residents will vote next month on a capital project that would facilitate health and safety initiatives and upgrade the district's athletic facilities and auditorium.
The district board of education approved a proposed approximate $7.6 million capital project on March 8, according to a news release on the district's website. Community members can vote on this initiative Tuesday, May 18, in addition to casting their ballots on school board seats and the annual school budget. Two public forums on the proposed project are planned for later this month.
The district said this capital project wouldn't impact taxes until the 2023-24 school year, when taxes would see an around $37 bump for a home assessed at $100,000. Under the proposal, "portions of the roof at the Jr.-Sr. High School, above the original building, auditorium, music rooms, and the 2004 wing will be replaced," the news release said. The district said that these sections of roof are reaching the end of their useful life and haven't been updated in two decades.
Superintendent Shaun O’Connor said in a statement that Weedsport's last capital project heavily centered on updating classrooms, ceilings, the heating and ventilation system, and lockers at Weedsport Jr.-Sr. High School.
“The last thing we want is for these updates to be ruined by future leaks,” he said. “Neglecting these roof updates could expose us to a bad situation in the near future.”
A new emergency generator would be installed, as a further way to protect the building and the people in it during a possible power failure. This would be meant to let the technology, refrigeration, heating and ventilation, and emergency lighting systems to continue functioning.
“We also identified areas for improvement through this capital project at the Elementary School that have seen deterioration after high-intensity use by students and the community over the last twenty years,” O’Connor continued.
The Weedsport Elementary School lobby's flooring outside the John J. Topichak gymnasium would be replaced. The gym would have a divider wall taken out and a drop-down curtain put in. New wall pads would also be added.
The district has made cosmetic upgrades to its auditorium over the years, but the release said "it is time to address its most critical aspect, which is nearing the end of its lifecycle."
"Through this capital project, the District aims to modernize the performing arts program by installing a new, digital sound system in the facility, which includes wireless microphones and a new ADA-compliant hearing assistance system," the news release said. "Additionally, an upgrade to the lighting system is a component of the auditorium enhancements to address some areas where the stage lighting is inconsistent."
Weedsport is also planning to rebuild its outdoor track and put in a turf field. The district feels the outdoor track and field area is in need of a total revamp due to wear and tear both naturally and from use over the previous 20 years since it was installed.
"The newly installed turf field would allow for soccer, field hockey, and football practices and games to be played on the surface while also allowing baseball and softball teams to hold practices when their sports playing fields are too wet in early spring and/or during rainy periods," the district said.
When considering the track upgrade and turf playing field's durability, the district expects the track and turf field would be used for more months of the year, including as a classroom for physical education classes, which are taken by every student. Community members are also able to use the instruction's facilities and grounds to exercise.
"The District will be ensuring accessibility to the field by restructuring the walkways to both of the bleacher-areas while also installing accessible bathroom facilities near the field for public use," the release said. "While ushering the District into the 21st century regarding the track and turf upgrade, the District is being mindful to maintain the small town, prep school atmosphere which has long been a part of the sports experience at Weedsport by ensuring that watching games from ‘the hill’ will remain unchanged. The expected bleacher and press box replacements, which are part of the proposed capital project, will not change the viewing experience for fans, friends, and family members from their traditional hillside perch."