Under our current capital project, as I’ve written here previously, we had favorable bids to the extent that we are able to include all of our alternates in the work being conducted now. Alternates are those things that we would have liked to do but for which we didn’t believe the current capital project budget would allow. Alternates have to be within the scope of the voter approved capital project and they are also require SED approval. There were three prioritized lists, including things like better lights in all of our parking lots and on the lowest priority was moving the district offices into the Springville Middle School. We wanted to move but put every other need first because it was the right thing to do. Luckily, we were able to accept all alternates under our current capital project.
Why are we moving the district offices into a school building? Two main reasons.
1. Financially, it’s a smart move. Any work that we do on our current district office receives zero state aid back because it’s not a student occupied space. That roof we had to replace last summer? Local taxpayer cost because there’s no state aid on the district office building.
If the P-TECH project passes tomorrow, this building becomes a student occupied space and will receive state aid as our other school buildings do, at 79.8% of the aidable work. That’s a reduction in our costs of maintaining our buildings to our SGI taxpayers.
Also, the lease agreement with BOCES for the local share of the capital project to build the P-TECH? That covers the FULL term of our payback of local share. I’ve heard a couple of people suggest that it’s only for five years—that’s NOT true. We have a signed lease agreement, a legal document vetted by Hodgson Russ, one of our school attorneys, that holds BOCES to the full amount of the local share for the project. What’s that mean? We aren’t going to be left “holding the bag” as some have worried.
2. Why would we want the business office and superintendent separated from the students and personnel who we’re here to support? I’ve worked in five districts over my 29 year career. All but one of them had the district offices within a school building. We were an integral part of the daily operations and support of students and staff. In a separate building as we are now, it’s easier to get a separatist, ivory tower mentality. One of the things I heard over and over again when I started here was a desire from employees, the BOE and families for us to change from a “top/down hierarchical” system to a more inclusive one. We’re a leadership team–all of us helping one another–there’s no reason to separate two of us. And the concern that the visitors coming to the district office may be unsafe has absolutely not been my experience in ten years of leading as a school superintendent.
The district office staff includes me, the district clerk/my secretary, a school business administrator and her four staff members–that’s seven people to accommodate in the new district office space at SMS. It’s under renovation now and I’ve been in there. There is plenty of space for us AND we’ll be there to directly support our families, students and staff.
Originally we studied a move to SES but ultimately decided against it because it meant taking three of the most desirable classrooms in that building. At SMS, we displaced one teacher. Our family and consumer science teacher was moved to another space. No longer does SED require middle school students to take home and careers. We will begin to offer it as an elective, along with coding and technology classes, at some point in the future. There is less focus on sewing, cooking and child care and more focus on careers, future planning and student interest.
We have a well thought out plan for the district office that changes the “way it’s always been” in a way that makes us more approachable, accessible and effective. It brings us closer to our students and transforms a building which is a financial burden to the local taxpayer into a student occupied space that receives state aid for allowable work.
If you have any questions about the proposed P-TECH project or any other decision here at SGI, please know that I’m here to talk. I’ll answer any questions you have and consider your ideas. Please stop by 307 Newman St, call me at 592-3230 or email me at email@example.com. Thank you.