Passage of facilities bond in the Ithaca City School District, 2007
CALS Impact Statement
Like many public education systems in New York state and the nation, the local Ithaca City School District (ICSD) has, for a long time, faced major facilities and infrastructure needs. The ICSD has 16 facilities serving 5,500 Ithaca-area students. Beginning in 2005, the ICSD administration and school board initiated a planning process to bring a major facilities bond referendum to voters. This planning process culminated in the 2006-2007 academic year, and was led by the Superintendent of Schools and me, as president of the Board of Education. The planning process included formation of a steering committee; an architectural review of all district facilities; formation of a large community advisory group; discussions with architects and construction managers; and extensive interactions with community members and leaders, local media, parents, teachers, and staff. The outcome of this process was that the ICSD School Board brought to voters two facilities bond propositions, totaling $98.4 million, in March, 2007. Both propositions passed. These bond propositions will permit extensive renovations of ICSD facilities over the next four to five years, including major new additions at three schools. These renovations are the most significant to ICSD facilities in the last 30 years and are expected to last at least another 30 years, during which they will permit an improved learning environment and better educational outcomes for tens of thousands of Ithaca-area students.
Like many public education systems in New York state and the nation, the local Ithaca City School District has had, for some time, a large number of major needs in its physical infrastructure. The ICSD has 16 facilities (12 schools and four ancillary facilities) serving the needs of about 5,500 students in the greater Ithaca area. Its physical facilities are decaying, with few major investments in its physical plant having been made since the 1970s. Heating and air conditioning systems need to be replaced in several schools, roofs repaired, classrooms and hallways refurbished, and many other renovations made. In addition, assessment of school district facilities showed three schools to require major new additions to meet both current and anticipated future needs. Many of these renovation needs had been deferred for years. Delaying them further was expected to add significantly to their ultimate cost and would leave ICSD students without the benefit of improved facilities to enhance the learning environment and educational outcomes.
Beginning in the summer of 2005, the ICSD administration and school board initiated a planning process to bring a major facilities bond referendum to Ithaca-area voters to address the building and infrastructure needs of the district. This planning process extended over one and a half years and culminated in the 2006-2007 academic year. It was led by the superintendent of schools and me, as president of the Board of Education. The planning process included: formation of a steering committee to oversee facilities bond planning; a state-mandated architectural review of all buildings in the District; formation of a large community advisory group representing a variety of stakeholders from community and business groups; extensive discussions with architects, construction managers, and construction specialists regarding building needs; presentations to local political and business leaders and community groups; close interactions with local media outlets; and many meetings with community members, parents, teachers and staff, interest groups, local political leaders, and school board members to solicit input, discuss alternatives, and outline a final plan to take to voters. The outcome of this lengthy process was that two facilities bond propositions, totaling $98.4 million, were submitted for a public vote in March, 2007.
Both facilities bond propositions, totaling $98.4 million, passed in the March, 2007 public vote. These propositions will permit extensive renovation of at all 16 ICSD facilities over the next four to five years. Included in this work will be major new additions at three schools including: complete renovation and a major expansion of fine and performing arts facilities at the high school; a new gymnasium, complete renovation of the athletic stadium, and other major new athletic facilities at the high school; addition of new classrooms, a library and a gymnasium at the alternative community school; and a new gymnasium at the only elementary school that lacks one. These renovations are the most significant to ICSD facilities in the last 30 years and are expected to last another 30 years, at least. Ithaca-area students and their families will benefit over the next several decades from the improved facilities, which will permit an improved learning environment and better educational outcomes for tens of thousands of students who pass through the doors of the ICSD.