Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are you doing a capital improvement project?
Our goal is to create an educational environment that will help all our children grow through enhancing our facilities. Our last capital improvement projects were approved in 2003 and 2005, and projects have been completed in phases since then. We recognize over the years the needs for the use of our facilities and for education have changed greatly and we seek to meet these needs while maintaining the stewardship of the district. Our district’s mission is to provide a diversified educational program which will produce literate, caring, ethical, responsible and productive citizens who are capable of adapting to change. The questions and answers below will further explain the details and impact this project will have on the community.
How did you select the projects to be completed in this Capital Improvement Project?
The process began in December 2014 with a building conditions survey, which was completed and submitted to the state in December 2015. The survey is a building-by-building, room-by-room, case-by-case analysis created with the help of Young and Wright Architects. The district looked at the survey and received input from stakeholders through a number of meetings and presentations and developed a scope that focuses on health, safety and accessibility (securing entrances, updating fire alarms, etc.), educational improvements (classrooms, athletic fields, arts/music, hands-on/experiential learning, etc.) and facilities infrastructure improvements (roofs, windows, plumbing, sidewalks, parking lots, stairs, etc.).
The proposed plan for work will enable us to preserve the structures we currently have and avoids an emergency repair, which will come at a higher cost in the future and receive no state aid. The project will impact all buildings housing students. Whatever items from the current project list not completed by this proposed plan will be considered as part of the next building conditions survey taking place in 2020.
Click here to view the scope of proposed projects for the capital improvement project by building.
Which facilities will receive improvements?
All buildings housing students will receive improvements to keep them in good condition and continue to improve access for all individuals. Click on the links below to see visual images of the proposed projects at each building:
Does this project include consolidating schools?
No. Since the buildings were built, needs have increased for areas including, but not limited to, safety/security, students with special needs, technology and building management. These needs along with way children learn have vastly changed over the past few decades. We want to continuously create authentic learning opportunities for students in the district. In recent years we consolidated from seven to five elementary buildings. We believe the current structure is appropriate and continues to meet the needs of students within the current structures.
How have program changes impacted the use of space in buildings since they were built?
We have a commitment to meeting the needs of all our students in-house rather than sending them elsewhere. This not only includes our students with special needs but those who seek assistance in mental health. All our schools now need to have space for staff including, but not limited to, counselors, social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists and psychologists. For students who need help in a specific area of study, such as reading, we need to have space available for them to meet with teachers one-on-one or in small group sessions. There is also an expectation to make administrators more accessible to parents and community members. Improving or adding these spaces will make these situations more comfortable and non-threatening.
We are placing a strong emphasis on the safety of our students. Making adjustments to our entrances, the locks on our doors, and traffic flow inside and outside of buildings will give us added security. We are also upgrading many items in our infrastructure (cleaner water, no leaking ceilings, better electric) to assist with the physical safety of our students. We are also going to improve the flow between offices for students who want to seek mental health, or who speak up about an issue they are facing. Improving the flow will improve the social and emotional needs of students keeping their situations private versus public knowledge, which in turn allows students to feel more inclined to speak up.
Though we have made improvements over the years relating to ADA compliance, we still need to improve upon items such as bathroom space, sidewalks, ramps, wheelchair lifts and curb cuts to make our facilities more accessible. We also plan to improve traffic patterns and parking spaces.
Technological advancements continue using up more space therefore all classrooms need to have the proper capacity of students to meet technological needs. Each elementary school now includes computer labs in addition to their library media centers. We also need to have space for data closets and to power Wi-Fi. As our students progress in age, there is a need to keep up with current technological trends, including the use and study of 3D printers.
On the music/theatrical side, our theaters now have more advanced lighting rigs and sound booths. There has been a vast increase in the number of students participating in music and our classrooms and instrument storage needs to meet their continued growth. The gym needed modified space to improve sound boards, lighting boards and to push the sound out so attendees can hear announcements. Note that many of our technological needs will be taken care of through the Smart Schools Act, using state-funded money. The act was co-planned with the capital improvement project so they complement one another. Learn more about Smart Schools on our website.
We also need to consider how we use space for meetings. We are not only a school district. Our facilities welcome many outside organizations, causing all our buildings to also act as community centers. Besides clubs, sports teams, classes, parent groups and more using our facilities for meetings, many outside organizations such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, travel sports teams, West Seneca Town Band and West Seneca Youth Theater come in and utilize our space. Many of our buildings also host events for Veterans Day and Memorial Day, inviting veterans and veteran organizations in to recognize and honor them. West Senior also played host to a Naturalization Ceremony the last two school years, celebrating those who are sworn in as American citizens. In our present state, we lack common space for these meetings and events. Being able to reconfigure our buildings will give us an opportunity to offer more to those utilizing our facilities, which will have a greater impact on our community.
Two of our elementary schools, Northwood and Allendale, now house universal pre-K programs. We value offering UPK to members of our district to not only allow students and families to feel comfortable in our district earlier, but to provide the opportunity for young children to receive an education from certified teachers. Our district also offers services to parochial schools within our district’s boundaries when needed.
Both of our high schools now use space on their main floors to house branches of Financial Trust Federal Credit Union. These student-run branches give students the opportunity to not only learn about financing but valuable business and communication skills they can apply after graduating. The high schools also have TV studios for students to learn how to work cameras and run a morning news program. Many of our schools have bookstores available for students to purchase items including supplies, spirit wear and snacks.
West Elementary is home of the West Seneca Teachers Center, one of the most vibrant and utilized teacher service centers in the region. This space is used after school hours as a hub for staff development and brings in numerous teachers from not only West Seneca but neighboring districts.
Our district is continually looking at how to use the available space to prepare students for the workforce while keeping them safe and meeting the needs of today’s advancements and regulations. We care about the quality of their education first and foremost.
Why is this important for the school district?
We need to make improvements on our facilities like a homeowner needs to make improvements on their home. The proposed plan will address the health, safety and accessibility issues throughout the district, which will increase energy savings and the overall use of space of all buildings while meeting the needs of our students, staff members and community. The project will also increase the hands-on and experiential learning opportunities for students, which will have a direct impact on their job and career readiness upon completing their education. The changes made will increase the opportunity for students to find success in all areas of academics and personal development.
West Seneca Central School District is one of the largest in New York State, ranking 74 out of 715 (44 out of 685 if you exclude New York City school districts). Making these changes to our buildings will allow us to further network with other districts and provide us with the opportunity to host new events and bring others to West Seneca.
The greater the connection we make between our schools and the community, the better chance students will become healthy and active members of West Seneca as they grow into adulthood.
Why is this important to taxpayers who do not have children in the buildings?
This project has NO TAX IMPACT! A quality school district helps protect and increases property values while enhancing marketability to attract future homeowners. Families searching for a home look closely at the excellence of the local schools. A school district’s facilities are a reflection of its educational program and we believe now is the time to once again protect our community’s investment and improve the learning environment for our students. In addition to school-related activities, the buildings also accommodate community groups, community education programs and the before- and after-school program. Our society has changed as our educational needs have. Student and family needs, safety, cost efficiency and other factors have created reasons to improve what we have. The greater the connection we make between our schools and the community, the better chance students will become healthy and active members of West Seneca as they grow into adulthood. Including these opportunities in their education gives students an increased sense of pride for their community.
What community groups use our buildings?
In addition to pre-K through grade 12 education, our schools host various activities such as before- and after-school care programs, after-school tutoring and summertime academic support. Our facilities also have a second identity as community centers in our town. West Seneca Central School District’s Community Education Program spans all four seasons and offers a variety of classes to citizens. Community groups such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, sports travel teams, the West Seneca Town Band and service organizations use our facilities on a regular basis.
How much is the project expected to cost the district?
The scope of the project initially included over $150 million worth of projects. The district is not obligated to complete all of the items listed and certain projects can be put off and completed down the line. After engaging with a variety of stakeholders to determine the scope of this project, the proposed plan will cost around $75.5 million. In order to help offset costs, the district receives 76.5 percent on state aid for any capital project done through the state. Therefore, the district hopes to maximize state aid at the 76.5 percent rate. The project will have no impact on taxes.
Will there be an impact on local property taxes?
This project has NO TAX IMPACT!
Why aren’t these improvements part of the regular school budget?
Routine building maintenance is part of the yearly operational budget, which does not qualify for state aid. Larger expenditures (roofs, windows, brick pointing) are best financed through capital improvement financing.
Are these the only updates that will happen at the buildings?
No. This project will not be our last project. The current project plans for an approximate 5-7 years. Whatever needs are not met in this time frame are added to a list and will be addressed in future capital improvement projects. This capital improvement project is considered to be the beginning phase of a long-term continual capital improvement plan. Similar processes will be conducted in future years and two required building conditions surveys will take place before the current project is complete.
When will the vote take place?
The vote will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, in the gymnasium at East Senior High School, 4760 Seneca St., West Seneca, NY 14224.
If you have a question that has not been answered in the list above, please send an email to Community Relations Coordinator Lauren Kirchmyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.