Capital Project...Why Now?
As you know, the Oswego City School District is engaged in a capital improvement project and we are asking the community to vote on December 18th. There have been many questions as to why this is the best time for the Oswego City School District to go out for another capital project vote and what are the variables that have changed since we initially asked the community to vote in March of 2018 on a similar project. Others are wondering what has happened since the 2015 financial challenges to today’s financial stability.
The district was listed as a district susceptible to fiscal stress in 2015 due to the reliance on regular use of fund balance and reserves to balance the operational budgets for several years. As you know, the district went to a revenue-based budget system and the savings from different reductions enabled the district to reduce its reliance on one-shot revenue sources. Additionally, over the past several years, district leadership has undertaken many necessary and difficult decisions including consolidation efforts and the sale and relocation of the old Education Center. These efforts coupled with retiring debt, an increase in our capital reserve fund and an increase in our State Building Aide from 62% to 86% have helped us to get to a place where the timing is right to move forward with this project.
The Capital Improvement Project and district annual operating budget are two entirely separate budgets. Any capital project guarantees natural escalating costs. The building condition survey, which is completed every five years by our architect and engineers and submitted to the State Education Department, gives the district a roadmap on how and when to complete major and needed repairs on buildings and surrounding properties. Important and required elements of this project identified in the building condition survey must be completed with or without a capital project in place. One example of this is the middle school track, where if resurfacing isn’t completed now, it will require an entire rebuild at double the cost later. There are also New York State mandates that have to be completed during a capital project. These include: lead remediation and hard-wiring of CO2 monitors. Additionally, all work done in a capital project generates building aid. If high priority items listed in our building condition survey are not completed in a capital project, we would need to fund these improvements or repairs through other means, with no building aid! Necessary or required items like the KPS and FPS roofs, the OMS boiler and track, and the water and CO2 improvements will receive 86% building aid in this project.
Our building aid has increased from 62% to 86% since the last capital project attempt. This means that more dollars are generated to offset the local share. The district has also committed to use $5.9 million of the capital reserve, which is an increase of $1.9 million since the last vote in May. Through a bond vote, we take advantage of NYS building aid.
Most importantly, the bulk of this project focuses on important and required improvements to our seven schools. Investing in our schools and our students is an investment in the future of our community. Our district provides 3,857 K-12 students with a positive educational learning environment and helps them become Fully Prepared and Life Ready! By maintaining our facilities and providing rich learning environments, we enhance educational opportunities for our kids and attract new families that may choose to join our community.
The changing variables of the increase in the dedicated amount from the capital reserve fund and the increase in State Building Aid from 62% to 86% allows us to make all of these improvements for $1.15 on a $100,000 home for 20 years. The average home in the district is worth $80,000, so the cost for most tax payers is less than one dollar a year for 20 years. Please visit the District’s website at www.oswego.org and our Facebook page for more important information on the capital project and please vote on December 18th.
Dr. Dean F. Goewey, Superintendent
For additional Capital Project Information please visit the 2018 Capital Project Webpage.