December 13, 2013


Homer school upgrades OK’d

Voters say yes to $21 million renovation project by 2 to 1 margin


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Brenda O’Gorman and her 13-year-old son Hunter look over the proposed Homer capital project drawings while voting Thursday at the Homer High School. Voters approved the project 375-176 on Thursday.

Staff Reporter

HOMER — School district residents on Thursday approved a $21 million renovation project by a 375-176 vote.
Most of the upgrades and improvements will be done at the high school and include renovations to the auditorium and second-floor art rooms, a 6,000-square-foot addition to the gymnasium and a 2,000-square-foot addition to the front of the school while district offices will be moved into the current music building. Outside, a new softball field is planned, while the regular high school baseball field will be moved to the intermediate school.
Throughout the rest of the district’s buildings, the focus will be on upgrading and replacing fire prevention systems, improving phone and network systems, the addition of cameras and supplemental security systems as well as the replacement of the bus garage’s aging roof.
Seventy-two percent of the funding will come from state aid and 12 percent from money the district has in its reserves, while funding for the other 16 percent of the project would come from new property taxes, totaling $4.1 million over a 20-year bond period.
If there is no change in the time line of the project, construction would begin in the summer of 2015 with completion scheduled for fall 2016
Board of Education members manned the tables and voting booths at the music building as residents steadily trickled in to cast their vote throughout the day.
Greg Sharer, 50, lives in the town of Homer and works at SUNY Cortland as the vice president of student affairs.
After casting his vote, Sharer said he came out in support of the project because he backs anything that will help create a better learning environment for students.
“I support education,” Sharer said. “The education of our students is critical to the community.”
Elizabeth Britt, 40, a town resident who works as the head of human resources at Pall, Corp. in Cortlandville, said with having to children in the Homer school district, safety was one of the reasons she voted in favor of the capital project.
“I think it’s so important,” Britt said, “With everything that’s been happening in different schools, it’s critical to protect the students.”
By 4:30 p.m. during a lull in voter turnout, Director of Administration and Finance Michael Falls said 298 residents had come to the Homer Central High School music building to vote.
He added up to that point, a good cross-section of residents came out to vote and said based on feedback from residents, he felt the voters were well-informed about the project.
“With materials out and what have you, people were informed,” Falls said. “People feel the information was put out there in a very available and user-friendly manner.”
Superintendent of Schools Nancy Ruscio said she and the board are happy with the results and residents were in favor of doing what is best for the students.
“We’re very pleased with the results,” Ruscio said. “The students will be the beneficiaries going forward in the future.”
She added now with the voter’s approval, the next step is to meet with architects to work on the finer details of the project and the district hopes to submit an application to the State Education Department by fall 2014.


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