School project OK’d, 306-174
By Kellen M. Quigley, City Reporter
SALAMANCA — Residents of the Salamanca City Central School District passed its proposed capital project Tuesday night by a 306-174 margin.
The proposed $27.5 million project will have no impact on local school taxes and would be paid for through aid from New York State and a reserve fund at the district, according to district officials.
The project largely aims to address items on the required building condition survey issued every five years by the state as well as much needed renovations and updates at Prospect Elementary.
Robert Breidenstein, district superintendent, said the voter turnout is around what the district expected. He said he thought positive messages throughout the community in the past couple weeks helped with the turnout and end result.
“This is a positive affirmation that the district is on the right track,” he said. “We are very pleased that the result exceeded the 60-percent by New York state requirements for small city school districts.”
The financial breakdown would see 66 percent of the $27.5 million cost coming from New York state aid. The remaining 34 percent would come from available funds the district already in hand. Officials have said there will be no additional impact to district taxpayers.
Involvement from the community, particularly the Ad Hoc Committee, was among the biggest factors in why the proposal passed with nearly 64 percent of the vote, Breidenstein said, including the six public forums held around the district.
“And I think the quality of Powwow communications that had gone out were cleaner, crisper and clearer,” he said. “That was a feedback that we had received from the community that the Powwow was much more detailed for their understanding, and that was helpful.”
School board member Kenneth Nary said thinks the positive vote will be great for the future of the students.
“I am very happy with the way that the public came out to vote,” he added.
Board President Theresa Ray said she was ecstatic with the results because it means the district can do the improvements and upgrades needed as well as begin the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics) program.
“It’ll put us on a good path for the future,” she added. “I want to thank everybody who voted. I’m glad the community came out and really supported the project. If people have questions, we invite anybody to come to a board meeting at any time.”
Approval of this $27.5 million capital project came about 18 months after district voters rejected a $58.7 million capital project in December 2015. That resolution was rejected, 702-236, in one of the largest voter turnouts for a school referendum in recent memory.
That project included the closure of Prospect Elementary School and sought to consolidate the school system to a single campus on Iroquois Drive.
After approval of the $27.5 million capital project on Tuesday, Breidenstein said the community will be involved in the design of the project with the architects and engineers. He said that after the district files necessary paperwork to the state education department, they will bring everyone together to begin with the design phases.
Breidenstein added that reports in the past month showcasing increased attendance rates, decreased discipline reports, increased progress assessments, increased graduation rates and dropout rates down to the “lowest they’ve been in the history of the district” are a direct result of the hard work from district staff, faculty, teachers, building administrators and the Board of Education.
“Today is a great day,” he said. “This is a celebration for a lot of people who have done a lot of hard work to make this happen.”
(Contact reporter Kellen Quigley at email@example.com.)