On November 24, 2014, the Clarence community approved both elements of the proposed capital project. Proposition #1 passed with 1,315 yes votes and 274 no votes. Proposition #1 calls for spending $27.89 million dollars on general repair and maintenance in all six school buildings plus the bus garage and maintenance area. Proposition #2 passed with 1,096 yes votes to 493 no votes. Proposition #2 involves spending $5 million to install artificial turf on the Clarence High School football stadium field, as well as the baseball and softball fields and renovation of the all-surface track. A multi-use turf field will also be installed in the softball outfield.
The Clarence Board of Education established a Citizens’ Task Force that met from November 2013 through June 2014 to examine capital improvement needs, determine if a capital project was necessary and recommend a scope for the project. The eleven community members on the Task Force made their recommendations to the Board of Education on June 16, 2014.
The first recommendation was to maintain the current configuration of four elementary schools. The Task Force determined that slight enrollment declines were not sufficient to consider closing an elementary school or reconfiguring grade levels. The Task Force further recommended that it should be reconvened should elementary enrollment drop below the benchmark level of 1,650 students. Elementary enrollment in Clarence currently stands at 1,954 and five year projections maintain enrollment within 100 students.
The main resource used by the Task Force was the Building Conditions Survey, a mandatory document revised every five years that lists prioritized elements in every school building that are past their useful life cycle, need repair or replacement, and/or fail to meet current code requirements.
The Board of Education reviewed and debated the Citizen’s Task Force report and subsequently made some revisions. The Board of Education then held a special public meeting on August 18, 2014 to explain the capital project scope and to solicit community input. The Board also listened to public feedback at their August 25, 2014 regular meeting. Throughout the process, from the first meeting of the Citizen’s Task Force in November 2013 until the Board of Education vote on September 22, 2014 to put two capital bond initiatives on the ballot for voter approval, the District insisted on total transparency with all documents, reports, studies and meeting minutes published on the District’s website.
New York State will provide state aid for approximately 70 percent of the project. In order to qualify for the 70 percent state aid reimbursement, voters in a school district must approve the borrowing of funds for the capital project, which are then paid back over 15 years. If approved, the District will allocate $3 million of fund balance toward the local share. The estimated annual cost on a home valued at $200,000 would be $46 per year for 15 years.