District to propose $7.6 million capital project that will address health and safety, modernize performing arts program and auditorium, and upgrade athletic facilities

On Monday, March 8, the Weedsport Central School District Board of Education approved a proposed $7,647,000 capital improvement project that, if approved by voters, would fund needed health and safety initiatives district-wide, modernize our auditorium venue, and upgrade the athletic facilities.

Residents will vote on the proposed capital project on Tuesday, May 18, along with the annual school budget vote and the Board of Education election.

A focus on health & safety

Under the proposed capital project, portions of the roof at the Jr.-Sr. High School, above the original building, auditorium, music rooms, and the 2004 wing will be replaced. These portions of roof have not been updated in 20 years and are nearing the end of their useful life. Superintendent Shaun O’Connor said the District’s last capital project focused heavily on updating ceilings, the heating and ventilation system, classrooms, and lockers at the Jr.-Sr. High School.

“The last thing we want is for these updates to be ruined by future leaks,” said O’Connor. “Neglecting these roof updates could expose us to a bad situation in the near future.”

As a further safeguard in protecting the facility and its occupants during a potential power failure, a new emergency generator will be installed allowing for the technology, heating and ventilation, refrigeration, and emergency lighting systems to function without interruption.

“We also identified areas for improvement through this capital project at the Elementary School that have seen deterioration after high-intensity use by students and the community over the last twenty years,” said O’Connor.

The flooring in the Elementary School lobby outside the John J. Topichak gymnasium will be replaced. The gym will also have a divider wall removed and a drop-down curtain installed. Finally, new wall pads will be installed to help ensure a safe environment for students and members of the Weedsport community who use the gymnasium.

Auditorium enhancements

The music program at Weedsport has been a great source of pride for decades in our community, and the auditorium venue has been a site for memorable performances ranging from concerts for all levels, high school and middle school musicals, and even community-based events such as dance recitals and veteran-based ceremonies. While the District has made cosmetic upgrades to the auditorium through the years, it is time to address its most critical aspect, which is nearing the end of its lifecycle.

Through this capital project, the District aims to modernize the performing arts program by installing a new, digital sound system in the facility, which includes wireless microphones and a new ADA-compliant hearing assistance system. Additionally, an upgrade to the lighting system is a component of the auditorium enhancements to address some areas where the stage lighting is inconsistent.

Athletic facility upgrades

Weedsport is dedicated to educating the whole child. This includes promoting exercise and wellness – something that is vital as our community transitions from pandemic-caused lockdowns and quarantines to more active movement.

Regarding active movement opportunities for students, the physical education department strives to raise student activity levels through daily instructional opportunities, while student participation in the interscholastic sports programs remains robust. Further, members of the community are welcome to use District facilities and grounds for physical exercise.

As a desire to promote even more physical exercise opportunities for students while in school, after school, as well as for community members, the District is seeking to reconstruct the outdoor track and install a turf field.

The outdoor track and field area is due for a total overhaul as a result of both natural and use-inflicted wear and tear over the last 20 years since it was originally installed. The newly installed turf field would allow for soccer, field hockey, and football practices and games to be played on the surface while also allowing baseball and softball teams to hold practices when their sports playing fields are too wet in early spring and/or during rainy periods.

Given the track upgrade and the durability of the turf playing field, the District anticipates that the track and turf field would be used for many more months of the year – including as a classroom for physical education classes, which every student takes.

“I expect both the track and turf field to be used by students and community members from sun-up to sun-down for 9 months of the year,” said Superintendent O’Connor.

The District will be ensuring accessibility to the field by restructuring the walkways to both of the bleacher-areas while also installing accessible bathroom facilities near the field for public use.

While ushering the District into the 21st century regarding the track and turf upgrade, the District is being mindful to maintain the small town, prep school atmosphere which has long been a part of the sports experience at Weedsport by ensuring that watching games from ‘the hill’ will remain unchanged. The expected bleacher and press box replacements, which are part of the proposed capital project, will not change the viewing experience for fans, friends, and family members from their traditional hillside perch.

The proposed project will carry no tax impact until the 2023-24 school year, when taxes would increase approximately $37 for a home assessed at a value of $100,000.