Lancaster is at a crossroads that presents a unique opportunity to reshape the district’s future in a myriad of ways. We have much to be proud of as a school district. We have achieved some of the best performance rankings in the state, including the highest graduation rate in Western New York.
While we know it has been hard for some to forgo a long-standing tradition and retire the school team name, we have every reason to believe that many in the Western New York community recognize the importance this change demonstrates.
Last week, I initiated a collaborative, student-centered process through which a new sports team name, representative of Lancaster’s pride, spirit, and tradition, will be developed and proposed for board approval. In the future, the “Redskins” mascot will be honorably and respectfully retired and a new mascot formally unveiled.
Together, we have the means to make this a positive and exciting time for our students, as an upcoming capital project affords us the opportunity to incorporate the new team mascot and logo as part of the project taxpayers will vote on in May.
A state-mandated 2015 building condition survey identified $49.6 million in health and safety repairs and improvements needed throughout the district. Many of the included items are beyond their useful life, or repair and maintenance has become prohibitive due to the unavailability of replacement parts for old systems. Funding this project will support maintaining structurally safe and sound buildings for our students to learn in and our staff to work in. It is important to note the $49.6 million portion of the project will have a zero percent impact on taxes as the result of state aid, historically low bond interest rates, and the retirement of previous debt service.
Facility enhancements will come through the generous support of the Lancaster Educational and Alumni Foundation (LEAF) and their commitment to raise $1 million to offset the local cost of a $7.7 million project including a multi-use turf field for band, soccer and lacrosse; field house expansion with bleachers and concessions; music suite renovations; an improved access road and handicapped parking. With LEAF’s support this, too, will have a zero percent impact on taxes.
We are grateful for the ongoing community support that has helped build Lancaster into one of the pre-eminent school districts in Western New York. Through our academic and extracurricular programs, our goal is to provide students with a gateway to life-long learning and the strength of character that will enable them to achieve successful and rewarding lives after graduation. It is our fervent hope that through your continued involvement and support we can all unite for the benefit of today’s students and for the future of this great district.