In case you missed it, at the June 16th school board meeting, Vic Martucci of the Clarence Central School District’s Citizens Advisory Task Force gave a presentation outlining the task force’s findings and recommendations.
You can read about it at the Clarence Bee and at the Clarence Watch blog. The presentation itself is included in the school board’s packet of materials from the meeting.
The Bee’s editorial board endorsed the task force’s proposal, finding that, “the repairs and improvements that these projects propose are both necessary and long overdue.”
With buildings that range between 48 and 75 years old, it should be of no surprise that there are general maintenance problems that need to be addressed. And while state funds are available to ease most of the burden to fix these buildings, it should be a no-brainer that now is the time to make it happen. Some may say the money from the state is still a tax burden on the people who live in the Clarence School District. But make no mistake, if capital improvement funds aren’t spent here, they will be elsewhere.
The task force was very cautious about what exactly it was going to propose to taxpayers, knowing full well how volatile things got in the district budget battle during the spring of 2013. It used the 2013 Buildings and Conditions survey as its compass, identifying items on a tiered basis.
Items in tier 1 were labeled as acute needs, while items labeled as tier 2 could be put off for a couple of years. All tier 2 items were left out of the recommended repair and maintenance project. In doing so, it reduced the projected cost of $43.8 million by almost $13 million. That shows the task force is not blind to the fact that raising the community’s taxes needs to be justified.
But this should not be a hard sell. Clarence students should not have rainwater from leaky roofs dripping on them. Clarence student-athletes should not have practices and games canceled or rescheduled because the fields look like they have been torn apart by a three-day music festival crowd.
And technology upgrades are going to be a mandate in a few years anyway, as the state leans toward computer testing. Since these upgrades are going to be required, the district ought to make them while there is still a 70 percent reimbursement rate available from the state. As time goes on, it’s less and less likely that state money — or at least that much of it — will be available.
General repairs and maintenance are necessary. When your roof or furnace needs replacing or fixing, you do it. And wouldn’t you be even more willing to do so if the state picked up most of the cost?
Keep Clarence Schools Great will be involved with the effort to make sure that necessary repairs and upgrades are made, in order to maximize efficiency and keep kids safe. Keep an eye out on our Facebook page to find out how you can help.