Weekly Feature

2018-08-09 / Editorial

Facility improvements needed for student success

Bee Editorial

Most people would agree that children are entitled to a fulfilling education, but how do you define that term? Does it mean well-rounded, competitive, successful, challenging, safe — or all of the above? Yes. And the West Seneca Board of Education is formulating a plan for how to deliver this type of education to all children.

The solution? A capital improvement project that will not only address students’ needs for future education, but also the necessary building upkeep that is falling by the wayside.

“We were at one time spending about 6 percent annually on this type of work. By 2018-19, that’s going to be down to 4.6 percent,” said Brian Schulz, district treasurer. “We’re still falling behind, but this will not let us drop off the face of the earth.”

If improvements and repairs are not made soon, building conditions will lead the district to the point where work is no longer optional but required to keep the buildings open and safe for students. And for Schulz, this would mean a spike in school taxes.

To help the public come to terms with the condition of the school buildings, Schulz suggested the board add many photos to the district website to show facility issues.

Additionally, Schulz said the district’s buildings are not capable of keeping up with advancing curriculum in terms of technology for science, engineering, mathematics, art and music programs.

“The most critical part for the community to understand is the need for some of these things when you look at science labs, when students are trying to do STEM, and there’s lots of kids preparing for post-high school careers; the art programs, which are so good in this district; music. These are all things that we have really not done a good job on,” Schulz said.

Simultaneously, the district is waiting for review on its Smart Schools project proposal.

Work planned under the Smart Schools Bond Act includes upgrading Wi-Fi, existing wiring and phones; creating additional access points and updating data cabinets.

Shawn Wright of Young + Wright Architectural said he has been told by the state that once the process has begun, school districts can expect to wait for about three years before final approval is given.

In the meantime, voters should visit the district’s website, wscschools.org, view the detailed project proposal, and think long and hard about whether they feel students are entitled to these improvements.

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