SALAMANCA - After being mothballed eight months ago with the intent of selling the building, if the will of the voters is the same as that of the Salamanca Central School District board of education, the Seneca Nation of Indians will be able to expand key educational opportunities for their youngest citizens.
On March 11, as voters in the Salamanca school district go to the polls, the SNI will be looking on very closely. They are the prospective buyers of the building that was once known as the Seneca Elementary School. The school, as part of the city school district, was a cross section of the population of the city. If the sale is approved, it will continue to be a place of education, but more for Seneca children from infant to pre-K, according to a recent release from the Seneca Nation.
According to released plans, the building will also be used as an Arts and Learning Center. The main space will be in the Early Childhood Learning Center, to include language and educational programs. For the language, one of the largest functions would be implementation of Seneca Language as an immersion learning environment.
"Our goal is to restore Seneca fluency and provide a center of academic distinction for our children in a safe, nurturing environment," said Rodney Pierce, SNI treasurer. "By providing more early childhood learning opportunities for all residents of this region, we are going to enhance the Nation's and Salamanca's economic vitality, inspire artistic creativity and increase educational excellence overall in Ohi:yo' (Allegany). It will be a gratifying day for all Senecas and our community partners when the Seneca Arts and Learning Center opens."
Barry Snyder, SNI president, echoed the thoughts of his treasurer, citing the importance of the forward thinking planning that has come about in the process thus far.
"This project is important for our people to build a strong educational foundation, and it is an honor to share this vision with the residents of Salamanca," Snyder said. "By infusing our language, culture, education and arts into one facility we strengthen our commitment to early childhood education, which will help us cultivate excellence in our next seven generations. Having all of these components housed in this facility creates a strong connectivity and will enhance our ability to achieve established goals to benefit the Seneca Nation and our families."
Negotiations involving the planning of the sale have been ongoing since early 2013. According to school Superintendent Robert J. Breidenstein, the cooperation between the Seneca Nation and the school district has been an important step forward between the two entities. The plans have meshed well with the district's plans to move forward as well, he said.
"This yearlong planning process highlights our commitment to work collaboratively with our Seneca Nation neighbors and to implement the board of education's Goal II to ensure fiscal stability for the city's school system and make strategic facility decisions based on enrollment, finances and need," Breidenstein said. "We see this transformation as the perfect building reuse and encourage the community's approval."
If the plans to sell the building to the Seneca Nation of Indians is approved by the voters, plans to finalize design and implementation of the new center will be able to start toward the end of March, according to a released statement.
Also on the referendum ballot for that day is a resolution to purchase the property adjacent to the school with an address of 608 Broad St., will be on the ballot for purchase at a price not to exceed $41,000. The lot, mostly vacant, measures 98.3 feet of frontage on Broad Street, with 80.5 feet of boundary on the Salamanca City Central School District property at 50 Iroquois Drive. The lot is approximately 380 feet long, and is owned by Michael Zarzecki of Olean.