A strategic look at UCS facilities
UCS has celebrated multiple 50 year anniversaries for its schools over the past two years. The celebrations are an opportunity to welcome back former students and staff and recognize how our school communities shaped them and their future.
While the celebrations vary, there is one consistent piece that invariably happens. A graduate from the 70s will stop, look around and remark – “you know, this looks exactly like it did when I went here.”
So much has changed in these decades since our schools first opened – safety, how students learn and how we teach, and a greater understanding of the type of environment that empowers our students for success.
The bond issue proposal that voters consider on May 2, 2023, will give us a chance to step back and do a long-range evaluation and improvement at facilities that are an average of 54 years old.
We have been great stewards of our community’s investment in facilities, but it is time to embrace a strategic focus on how our school buildings will support excellence.
The bond issue is the first stage of a long-range plan to maintain the legacy of excellence in UCS and carry that well into the future. Already, we have identified more than $1.4 billion in overall needs; the package being presented to voters on May 2 allows us to take this first step forward without increasing our total debt millage rate.
Next month, an Enrollment Distribution Advisory Committee (EDAC) will begin its work to look at our elementary schools and study future needs based on age of the facilities, safety concerns based on the school’s floor plan and overall student enrollment patterns. The committee will also consider the future of the Heritage site, which serves both the Gene L. Klida Utica Academy for International Studies and the Junior High School.
Through this work, the administration will provide a recommendation to the Board of Education this fall on whether schools will be replaced, rebuilt or receive needed renovations to best support the educational needs of our community.
This is a defining moment for our schools. We are embarking on a process that will guide the future viability and excellence of this school district.
It is the type of moment that future generations will talk about when they gather to celebrate 100-year diamond anniversaries. They will look at us with the same level of respect and appreciation that we feel for those who built this school district decades ago.