SHERBURNE — The Sherburne-Earlville Central School District (SECSD) will be holding a vote on their proposed capital project from 12 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, December 13 in the middle and high school auditorium.
The project, priced at approximately $29 million, focuses on school safety, innovative learning spaces for established programs, and infrastructure that allows the district to keep up with technological advancements, and will have no additional tax impact on residents.
SECSD residents are encouraged to learn more about the proposed capital project at upcoming meetings and forums. The next public meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, November 14 in the SECSD Board Room, in advance of the board meeting.
At 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 29 a forum will be held at the Sherburne Fire Department, and at 6 p.m. on Monday, December 5, another forum will be held at the Earlville Public Library.
"I want to meet with as many folks as I can," said SECSD Superintendent Robert Berson. "I want it to be interactive, I want people to feel comfortable asking questions. So what I do is I have some handouts that I provide, and I talk them through the process, and then open the floor for questions. And then I do my best to answer the questions."
"The task that the board gave me when they hired me three school years ago was, what’s your vision for the district? So we went through a strategic planning process to develop a new mission, vision, identify what our core beliefs are, and then set goals for the district," said Berson. "Our mission, what we do on a daily basis, is to inspire and empower students, staff, and the community. And our vision, our aspirational goal, is to be an innovative rural school, and we want to create excellent opportunities for students. So that’s kind of a guiding principle there."
He said determining areas of improvement in the schools was a collaborative effort between the district's facilities committee and the community.
"We did staff, student, parent, and community surveys, and all that information came back," said Berson. "Obviously we couldn’t do everything that everyone wanted because that would be cost prohibitive. But the focus being, how can we have no new tax impact for our community, and what are some bigger items that people are passionate about, and how can we identify those things?"
Through the surveys, the committee was able to narrow down a scope of enhancements that include upgrades to the middle school, high school, and elementary school. Enhancements include a new secured entrance for the middle and high school, select bathroom renovations, high school gym locker room updates, replaced flooring on both floors of the elementary school, electrical power distribution, interior door hardware, PA system upgrades, and phone system upgrades.
The capital project also features improvements to the Marauder Stadium, such as a six-lane track, a new synthetic turf field, a perimeter asphalt walk, a discus cage and throwing ring, and a new pole vault location, among others.
At S-E, STEAM, STEM, agricultural, and technology programs are fast growing and see a lot of student interest. Berson said that was another factor the committee kept in mind when determining what enhancements to include in the capital project.
"Instruction drives construction. So one of our fastest growing programs at Sherburne-Earlville is our robotics program," he said. "Part of this redesign relative to our STEAM/STEM areas is we need more space. So what are we doing to address hands-on learning needs for students, in conjunction with our robotics program, our agriculture program, our technology program? We do have a lot of interest in those programs, and they’re growing. So it's important that our instructional space reflects the student interest for those programs."
A full list of proposed district improvements can be found online at SECSD.org/2022CapitalProject.aspx.
The $29 million project, if authorized by voters, will be paid for by a combination of reserve funds, state aid, and debt service, or bonding.
"Part of that planning is you try to plan projects when you have other old debt coming off, and we do have a portion of debt coming off the books at the end of the 2024 school year. So it’s important to plan that when old debt is coming off, if you have the need. Which we’ve identified the need through a collaborative process. That’s when that new debt goes on," Berson explained.
If the capital project is approved, Berson estimates the work will begin in early 2024, with full project completion by the end of 2026.
"Think of it like a race. So think of like a track meet and a four by 100. We’re in the first lap. We haven’t even completed the first lap. The vote is on Tuesday, December 13. With voter authorization we’re getting to the completion of that first lap," said Berson.
"The next nine to 12 months is where you get into the planning and design. So although we’ve had a high level of collaboration and input, there’s even more opportunity for input in different areas of the project. So I look forward to working with faculty, staff, students, and parents, and community members on that process as well."
More information on the SECSD capital project can be found at SECSD.org/2022CapitalProject.aspx, where information and an FAQ page is updated regularly.