Our Elementary Objective: FAQs
Why renovatE multiple schools at a time, rather than in a one-by-one manner?
District leaders studied the option of a slower-paced construction schedule that would take place over a much longer period of time. There are two significant barriers to this option.
First, a longer construction schedule would result in higher projected costs due to anticipated cost escalation and inefficiencies in construction purchasing and bidding. That would likely eliminate our ability to deliver the project without increasing school taxes. The Board believes that the ability to capture the combined financial advantages of the project made for a compelling reason to do all of the work at once using a two-phased approach.
Second, our leadership is committed to providing the advantages of renovated facilities to as many of our elementary age students as soon as possible. A longer schedule would not only delay this implementation; it would mean that some elementary students would benefit, while others might miss out, an inherent unfairness that the district seeks to avoid.
How were priorities for renovation developed in each of the buildings?
The process for arriving at a scope of work in each building was collaborative. Guiding the process was the district’s 2018-23 strategic plan, which outlines the need for alignment between the instructional environments and the innovations and outcomes we seek to deliver. Principals and staff members know their buildings well, and thus were closely involved in developing priorities. Parents shared their aspirations for the instructional spaces. Our district leadership team ensured that infrastructure needs identified were included.
What should I do if I have additional questions?
You can share any questions or comments that you have with the principal at your child/ren's school. You may also complete a form and submit your questions or comments online. Questions and answers will be added to the Q&A document as new questions are received.
Do we have a projection for when construction might begin?
Construction at Woodland Elementary and Fremont Elementary is projected to begin in Summer 2020 and to be completed by the start of the 2021-22 school year. Construction at East Syracuse Elementary, Minoa Elementary, and Park Hill is projected to begin in Summer 2021 and to be completed by the start of the 2022-23 school year.
How much will the project cost?
The total cost of the project is approximately $49.8 million. This budget includes all costs for the project, including general administration, professional fees, project contingencies, and anticipated escalation.
The project cannot, by law, exceed the amount that voters approve. That’s because voter authorization for the project allows the district to sell bonds to fund it. The district can’t sell more bonds than the amount approved by voters.
What is the taxpayer impact of the project?
The project will not increase school taxes. Funding for the project will come through a combination of state building aid, use of a voter-approved capital reserve, and taking advantage of retiring debt.
Achieving Our Elementary Objective without increasing taxes has been the goal of the project since its inception in 2016. Voters authorized the establishment of a capital project fund, and the mindset of district leaders was to create a budget to achieve our goals without burdening taxpayers.
How was the project budget developed?
who Will ensure the project is delivered on-time & within the budget?
The budget was developed by ESM’s architect and the district’s construction manager based on experience with regional school construction costs, similar projects, knowledge of the contractor-bidding community, and projections for the construction marketplace over the next several years. Ultimately, once the projects are approved by the state, the construction manager will provide on-site representation to ensure that the project is delivered on time and within budget.
What happens to the students and staff of the building when construction is underway?
In four of the five schools, classrooms will need to be temporarily relocated in other buildings during construction. As we did with Pine Grove, we will develop logistics for the relocation of students during the construction. Communication with parents and staff will be ongoing throughout this process. Our recent successful history during the Pine Grove construction period should assure parents that instruction and safety will not be compromised.
What process did the district follow to select buildings to lease for swing space during construction?
Once it was determined that some buildings would not be renovated while occupied due to safety, disruption, and timeline concerns, the district followed a specific process as required by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to identify space for school communities to be relocated during the construction period. Any space identified had to meet NYSED requirements for capacity and safety.
First, the district looked at existing ESM school buildings to see whether current buildings had the capacity to absorb the enrollment of one or more elementary schools during the construction period. After thoroughly investigating this option, it was determined that not only did existing buildings lack the capacity to absorb 300+ students, but this option also had the significant disadvantage of splitting a single school community among multiple buildings.
Next, the district looked for appropriate space available for lease within ESM district boundaries. Through this process, the district identified St. Matthew's School in the Village of East Syracuse. However, this space is not large enough to accommodate the entire student population of some of ESM's elementary schools.
After all further options within ESM district boundaries were exhausted, the district followed NYSED guidance that the next option to explore would be suitable spaces within school districts immediately adjacent to ESM. Through this process, the district identified Lake Street Elementary in neighboring Chittenango Central School District. This building is larger than St. Matthew's, and will allow our larger elementary buildings the capacity needed to keep their school communities together during the construction period.
Why not just keep students in the buildings and renovate the buildings in various phases while occupied and over the summer?
The benefits of relocating to a leased space during construction include improved safety and security, less disruption of the learning environment, being able to stay together as a learning community, and preparing for a single move instead of multiple moves. It also shortens the construction time, which, in turn, saves project costs.
What is the transportation Plan for students are relocating during the construction phase?
Developing bus routes is a part of the District’s annual process in preparing for the opening of each school year. Bus routes for students relocating during the initial construction phase will be developed during Spring/Summer 2020. The Transportation Department is planning to create separate, dedicated bus routes for students who are relocating to Lake Street School in Chittenango to minimize travel time to and from school.
After School Activities
Will after-school activities and programs continue while schools are relocated?
The district will work with school stakeholders to determine the best option for after-school activities and programs, either within the leased buildings or in other district elementary schools.
Since Lake Street Elementary is in a neighboring district, how will snow days be handled?
Student safety is our guiding principle in determining whether schools will be closed, delayed, or dismissed early due to inclement weather or other emergency. Transportation routes to and from all district buildings are closely monitored by ESM staff. When ESM staff and students are at Lake Street, this building will be included in the same monitoring process. ESM district leaders will be in close communication with the Chittenango Central School District, and will coordinate decision-making on school closings and delays as closely as possible. Closing decisions for any leased facilities will be made by ESM.
Information regarding school closings and delays at all ESM schools, including Lake Street, will be communicated via the SchoolMessenger telephone, e-mail and text messaging system.
Where will Fremont students be relocated during the construction period?
So that the entire school community can be together at an alternate location during the construction period, we have secured a suitable site to relocate Fremont students and staff that meets New York State Education Department requirements for capacity and safety. The relocation site is Lake Street Elementary School (127 Lake St., Chittenango, 13037), which is in our neighboring Chittenango Central School District. This relocation will be for the 2020-21 school year. Students will return to a beautiful, start-of-the-art Fremont Elementary School for the 2021-2022 school year.
What can I expect for bus times to and from Lake Street Elementary in Chittenango?
The Transportation Department is planning to create separate, dedicated bus routes for Fremont students who are relocating in order to minimize travel time to and from school. Bus routes for students relocating during the construction phase will be developed during Summer 2020.
Where will Woodland students be relocated during the construction period?
So that the entire school community can be together at an alternate location during the construction period, we have secured a suitable site to relocate Woodland students and staff which meets New York State Education Department requirements for capacity and safety. The relocation site is St. Matthew’s School in the Village of East Syracuse (214 Kinne St., East Syracuse,13057). This relocation will be for the 2020-21 school year. Students will then return to a beautiful, start-of-the-art Woodland Elementary School for the 2021-2022 school year.
Minoa Elementary, East Syracuse Elementary & Park Hill pre-k:
When will work begin?
Construction at Minoa Elementary, East Syracuse Elementary, and Park Hill is projected to begin in Summer 2021 and to be completed by the start of the 2022-23 school year. We will be developing a more detailed construction timeline for these buildings at a later date.