Weekly Feature

2012-12-12 / Editorial

Projects ensure student safety, necessary updates

Bee Editorial

During this academic year, public schools in the town will be discussing capital projects needed to update each district’s buildings.

With voters in the Amherst and Williamsville school district recently passing the capital projects, Sweet Home Central is currently working on plans for projects, which are scheduled to be introduced to the district in early 2013.

In Amherst, the $23.8 million project was approved on Nov. 28 by a 479-109 margin. On Dec. 5, voters in the Williamsville district overwhelmingly approved the $16.75 million project proposal by a vote of 1,056 to 298.

At the Amherst schools, high school renovations account for $8.8 million of the total. They include the replacement of the stadium bleachers and press box, additional technology infrastructure, the renovation of science rooms and laboratories as well as six existing restrooms, the infilling of the existing pool with a new multipurpose athletic facility and repairs to the slate on the roof.

In Williamsville, the construction will address specific needs at all district schools and includes reconstructing the drop-off/pickup areas at Maple West Elementary, Transit Middle and South High schools. The scope of work also includes a new parking lot at South High; partial roof replacements at South High and Casey Middle schools; additional security cameras installed at all schools;

Much of the improvements are necessary to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other renovations will update buildings to provide a safer environment for students. While we respect the choices that district residents made when voting, we are unsure of whether or not they understood all of the details of the vote.

We don’t expect a proposition such as a capital improvement project to attain 100 percent approval, but we believe people should understand that the districts routinely work hard to make sure there is either little or no cost to taxpayers to fund renovations.

A majority — 78 percent and 76 percent in Amherst and Williamsville, respectively — of the costs associated with both district’s capital projects will be reimbursed through state aid. The remaining amount will be paid through the districts’ reserve funding.

As always when voting, we believe people need to stay informed. We hope that when it comes time for the Sweet Home district to present its capital project proposal, the public listens and understands before making a decision on the matter. Remember, many of these improvements are to increase student safety — which is something that isn’t attached to a price tag.

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