All school districts are required by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to conduct a building survey every five years; Lancaster's latest survey was completed in 2015. The goal of the five-year plan is to collect information on the district's infrastructure and prioritize facility needs on a district-wide basis. The information collected in the BCS assists the district with itemizing the needs of each building and prioritizing the most essential repairs.
The 2015 capital improvement project is underway with many phases nearing completion. This project addresses many facility needs and upgrades across the district.
However, our schools are like our homes. They require regular maintenance and periodic replacements to ensure they are sound, efficient, and safe. Even with the best of care, components wear out or become obsolete.
We have buildings dating back to as early as the 1920s, and many have overextended the life span of a number of key elements. On the other hand, William Street School is now 20 years old and has not had any renovations since it was constructed, due to state aid funding guidelines. Some systems are reaching their useful life span and despite efforts to patch and repair, in the near future, replacement is inevitable.
Given the length in planning between vote, state education department approval of the scope of work, and actual construction, it is fiscally prudent to begin one project as another is nearing completion.
It is all taxpayer money. However, by authorizing this project, voters can ensure that a portion of the state's taxpayer dollars is spent in the Lancaster schools to benefit our students. The process for getting aid dollars from Albany works somewhat like a grant program. Designing a capital project and gaining approval from residents is the state's method for determining how to allocate this taxpayer "grant" money. It is a way for us to get back some of our income taxes and apply them to local projects that are supported by local residents. When voters approve a capital project, the tax dollars that you have already sent to Albany return to our community.
A school district's reputation plays a major role in enhancing a community's real estate values. Investing in the infrastructure of our schools and facilities benefits every student, parent, community member, and staff member who walks through our doors today and into the future. Staff and students are not the only ones who benefit from safe and improved facilities. This work will also improve the quality of life in our entire community, from community education adult learners, to town and club recreational programs, to audiences who attend our award-winning performances, competitions, and programs.