January 27, 2022

Capital plan goes to vote

Homer school district seeks $24M for improvements

Sarah Bullock/staff reporter

Students walk between cars dropping off children and parked cars as they approach Homer High School’s drop-off area Wednesday morning. Homer Central School District plans to redesign the area as part of a capital improvement project that goes before voters Tuesday.

Stop by Homer High School some morning. Every school day, a bit before 8 a.m., the cars line up in the parking lot off Center Street, a line that extends out to the curb and sometimes down the street as parents drop off students.

Every afternoon, parents begin lining up about 2 p.m., nearly a half-hour before school’s out, to pick up the kids.

Reconfiguring that lot — as well as replacing roofs and other maintenance projects — would be part of a $24 million capital improvement project Homer Central School District voters will decide on Tuesday.

The district states it proposes to pay for the project through state building aid, managing debt payments and savings in its building reserve fund. There is no expected local tax increase, Superintendent Thomas Turck said. Turck could not be reached to explain how the debt payments would be managed and the information was not posted online.

“The proposed project is a needs-based plan that was developed to address health and safety issues as well as building infrastructure needs,” Turck posted on the district website. “Plans include replacement of items that have the potential to fail and/ or are substandard as they are at the end of their warranties or expected useful life.”

Roofs would be replaced at all four schools, according to the plan. Parking lots, drives, sidewalks and bathrooms, would be renovated at all three sites, too.

Americans with Disability Association enhancements, window replacements and new playgrounds are planned for the elementary and intermediate schools. The parent drop-off and parking areas at the intermediate and high schools would be redesigned.

Boiler, fire alarm and security upgrades are planned for the elementary school. At the junior high, the library, gymnasium and nurses suite would be renovated and the mechanical systems improved.

The high school’s bus loop would be extended, its garage renovated and the press box at the high school athletic field replaced.

“Upgrading these items now will not only provide better experiences for students and staff, it will allow for our facilities to run at maximum efficiency,” Turck wrote. “If these items are not addressed through this capital project, the district will not be able to leverage state funding and will need to use the general budget to accomplish some of the immediate health, safety and system life cycle needs, which may impact taxes.”

If the project does not pass the Dec. 14 vote, the district will go back to the public with a second, smaller proposal, Turck wrote.