Why is the district having a bond vote?
Cheektowaga Central is committed to providing a safe learning environment and well-maintained facilities for students and public use. Similar to upkeep and repairs in your home as it ages, our school buildings are aging and in dire need of attention. Many routine repairs and projects are funded with the annual District budget, with local taxpayers bearing the full cost. Large repairs and facility upgrades such as those in this capital improvement project totaling approximately $16.4 million would have a major impact on the tax rate if they were included in the annual budget. A bond issue is a fiscally responsible alternative because the State reimburses Cheektowaga for approximately 68% of the cost, and the expenses are spread out over a longer period of time.
Why is this work necessary?
Every five years, all school districts are required by the State to have a certified architect review the condition of their buildings and grounds. In 2015, our architectural consultant, Gordon W. Jones Associates Architects, examined Cheektowaga’s facilities and identified significant problem areas. The district addressed many of the health and safety issues in a 2016 capital project that included work at the High School/Middle School complex, Union East Elementary School and Pine Hill Education Center, which was rented in 2018 by Erie 1 BOCES for the EDGE Academy under a five-year lease agreement.
Why didn’t the district use Pine Hill Education Center?
The district’s capital project team reviewed the feasibility of using Pine Hill for kindergarten and prekindergarten classes, but the cost and programming implications for splitting grade levels between two buildings and the loss of $1.4 million in rental revenue over four years made repairs at Union East a more cost effective option.
How were the Union East projects chosen?
The 2015 Building Condition Survey identified several areas where the classroom sizes were out of compliance for the kindergarten and prekindergarten populations. At that time the district knew enrollment projections were on the rise. Since then enrollment has continued to increase to the point where there are waiting lists for the prekindergarten program. We do not have enough classroom space for art and music education classes which are held on carts in the gym. The capital project is needed to bring classroom square footage for our youngest learners into compliance, as well as add 16 new classroom spaces. We must address these issues now, rather than delay and face future higher costs.
When will the work take place?
It is expected that the project will start in April 2021 with completion in September 2022.
What happens if the project is not approved by voters?
If the project is rejected, parts of these costs will be funded through the general fund where no building aid will come from the state. Therefore the local taxpayer will pay for the total cost for those items that need to be addressed.