Its meetings rarely draw more than a half-dozen people, but the Cheektowaga Central School Board is hoping a special session next month on a space crunch in district schools will attract a crowd.
Officials last week said postcards are going out notifying residents of a "community meeting" at 7 p.m. Oct. 4 in the cafetorium at Union East Elementary School on Union Road, just north of Walden Avenue.
"We . . . are facing a dilemma and need your help," the postcards say.
"Both Union East Elementary and the Junior-Senior High School lack classroom and cafeteria space. Our library and science laboratories need upgrades to meet new state standards.
"We can address these concerns with a bond issue, or by using portable classrooms and/or operating on split sessions."
"Make your voice heard" by attending the Oct. 4 meeting, the board's terse message to taxpayers concludes.
Cheektowaga Central residents might not attend board meetings, but they do vote -- as seen last spring when the board gave them a choice between $28.7 million and $22.7 million construction bond proposals to solve space problems.
Almost 2,000 voters turned out to vote "no" to both projects -- resoundingly -- in spite of the promise of 10 percent more in state aid.
Now, the board is looking at more-modest building proposals.
A $18.9 million proposal would, among other improvements, see construction of a middle school, relieving pressure on overcrowded Union East. The second, costing about $13.9 million, would add classrooms at Union East while also upgrading various other facilities.
According to projections, the more expensive project would add about $1.30 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to the annual school tax bill of a homeowner with a $50,000 assessment. The $13.9 million project, meanwhile, would cost just under $1 more per $1,000 on the same home, officials say.
Before putting out another bond issue, the board says it wants to test the waters of public opinion -- and that's why it has called for the Oct. 4 meeting.
If the $13.9 million option is selected, a referendum could be held in December. But officials have said that a vote on the $18.9 million plan probably couldn't be held until January or February because of state environmental review regulations.
No building plan at all will probably mean portable classrooms and/or split sessions as early as next fall, officials said at the board's Sept. 11 meeting.
In a plea to residents at that meeting, School Superintendent Leslie B. Lewis said: "We're looking for responses, ideas, input -- give us a clue."