By Eva Potter

Parents and district residents are invited to join the ECS Board of Education for a walk-through of the facilities of the Ellicottville Central School District on Thursday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. (note this is a correction to the day mentioned in the ECS newsletter).

Participants will view firsthand some of the areas that the district may target for improvements. Discussions will center on the parts of the building dating back to 1962, as well as some concerns in the elementary wing that opened in 1988.

As published in the September 2012 ECS District Newsletter, Superintendent Mark Ward said, “The Board of Education and administration have been reviewing the District Building Condition Survey that was filed with the state last year in an effort to identify areas of need. When the district developed their Strategic Plan in 2009, one of the recommendations from the process was modernization and improvement to the district’s facilities.”

Facility upgrades, maintenance and educational improvements can be made with 60 percent voter approval.

The current ECS building opened in 1961. The first class to graduate from there   was the Class of 1962, which celebrated its 50th reunion this summer at the annual Ellicottville Alumni Celebration.

When the building opened, it consolidated scattered sites throughout the community that were used as classrooms like the Murphy House, Signore Building, Old Barn in Maybee Alley, Town Hall, Historical Building, Old Post Office, Waldo House, Milk House and McCadden’s Restaurant.

“Like any facility that is over 50 years old, there are going to be a number of items that need upgrades based on the changes in education, program needs, safety and health issues, ever changing technology, state mandates and the ‘functionality’ of areas within the building. It is important to make sure that we maintain the community’s investment in our school and provide our students with a facility that will meet the challenges of 21st century learning,” Ward stated in the newsletter.

Ward stated he and the board are ready to begin a public dialogue to address the concerns outlined in the report, as well as considering upgrades that will support future learning to prepare students for the most successful outcomes after graduation.

“While the district could continue to use district reserves to address upgrades and improvements, these come at 100 percent cost to the taxpayers. Developing a targeted project approved by the voters will allow us to access state funding, which is estimated to result in a 65 percent return. In other words, for every dollar we spend, the state will reimburse us for 65 cents. Fiscally, this is a much better way to approach school improvements than literally ‘going alone.’”

The public is invited to attend a short board meeting after the walk-through during which it will review report highlights, the group’s observations and experiences with the present facilities.

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