2017 Port Chester Schools Capital Project: Planning for Tomorrow and Beyond
A Community-Minded Initiative
The Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District voter approved a $79.95 million capital project on March 28, 2017. This initiative, developed with the guidance of a community-driven Bond Advisory Committee, will address critical building needs. It’s a forward-thinking plan that will create improved learning spaces to best serve our growing student body. Community members, including those with civic organizations, arts groups, athletic teams and more, will also be welcome to utilize these spaces.
21st Century Learning Spaces
This capital project will add the space needed to solve the district-wide problem of classrooms functioning at or near capacity – an issue the district was cited for by the Middle States Accreditation Commission. The plan is critical to meet the needs of a student body that is forecasted for continued growth.
Lack of space in our buildings has led to many elementary class sizes that exceed the State Education Department recommendations. Without adequate classrooms at the secondary level, our district is unable to offer the electives and honors level courses available in many surrounding districts. Valuable programs like the school’s International Baccalaureate program, highly regarded by college admissions officers, are also at risk. This initiative is focused on creating 21st century learning spaces with better teacher/student ratios and academic options to meet the needs of every student.
Planning for Academic Success
Smaller class sizes improve student outcomes by providing more time for teacher instruction. More class offerings lead to more engaged learners, improved graduation rates, and higher college acceptances.
The capital project additionally includes facility upgrades for athletics and the arts. A new high school gymnasium will increase capacity for instruction, while bringing competition space up to State High School Association standards. This will enable the district to host state tournament and championship games. New full size rehearsal spaces for the award-winning band and choral programs will make space for greater educational programming on the presently overused auditorium stage.
All in all, this plan will raise the academic profile of the Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District across all grades and student abilities.
A Sensible Investment for the Future
The 2017 capital project is a sound plan to secure funding through borrowing and state aid. The timing is right since interest rates are historically low, and previous debt will be expiring in the near future. This plan will have a long term positive impact and provide annual cost savings by keeping more special education students in district for instruction. In the past decade, our district has undertaken proactive measures to upgrade, but even with these efforts, our schools are inadequate to meet the needs of our students and community. This plan includes new and renovated spaces for 5 out of 6 schools, and will maintain all neighborhood elementary schools. In addition, it will increase curb appeal and create spaces that community groups will be welcome to use.
Better facilities make better districts, which make better communities; better communities increase home values. That is a cycle of value-adding for all of Port Chester.
Taxpayer Value: A Sound Investment
- $79,950,000: The total cost of all additions, renovations and upgrades included in the 2017 Capital Project.
- $75 annually per $100,000 of property assessment: The 24-year average annual cost to Port Chester taxpayers.
- Estimated 66% state reimbursement on allowable expenditures.
Project Status Updates
February 6, 2020
- Park Ave Additions and Renovations / Edison School Site and Lighting projects:: Contractors closeout documents were submitted and approved.
- King Street School Additions and Renovations: The loose furniture that was ordered by the District has been delivered, assembled and placed in the classrooms. The architectural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing punch lists are nearly complete. An exterior punch list will be generated as weather permits. The main roof top unit and other HVAC equipment have been balanced and a report has been issued for approval.
The gym floor is complete except for the revised game line markings and finish coating. The revised layout has been approved, and the required logo stencils are on order. We expect the floor to be completed next month.
The redesign of the larger bleachers has been finalized, and is on order. Delivery is expected in April. The network connections and rack are complete, ready for the District’s IT staff to program the network.
Final low voltage electrical has been installed but we await the AV equipment to be delivered and installed by the electrical prime contractor. We are also awaiting the cameras and card readers.
- JFK School Additions and Renovations: Gymnasium addition - The structural steel at the gym is complete and the roof deck is in progress. The gym floor decking has been installed and we await the installation of the radiant heat system on the floor deck, followed by the pouring of the concrete slab.
Two (2) story elevator addition – We are still awaiting the elevator installation. We had an elevator meeting and are looking at the best solution for installation dates.
Punch list items on the interior are being completed. We wait additional punch list items to be completed by the Electrical contractor.
- High School Additions and Renovations: At the Academic wing, the structural steel installation on the South wing was completed two weeks ago and the last slab was poured last week. The exterior wall framing on the North wing is well underway, and layout has started on the South wing. All staircases have been installed and poured and brick masonry work is continuing on the stair towers.
At the Gymnasium addition, the crane was mobilized and structural steel began last week. Steel is expected to be completed within (2) weeks. The CMU masonry work at that addition is continuing.
On the interior, the Phase I locker room demolition work and concrete block work is approx. 90% completed. The schedule to complete these areas is being finalized by the GC.
- Middle School Window / UV / Pedestrian Bridge: All new storefront windows have been installed except for classroom 206, which will be completed by Monday, February 10th. The interior window sills in 201-206 will be installed as well in these rooms. The associated roofing over this area will follow.
The interior blinds and shades are complete except for room 219 (Office) and classrooms and 201-206.All exterior doors have been installed. The soffits on the east side, first floor will be taped, spackled, sanded and painted. All of the air conditioning condensing units, both base bid and additional change order work, were installed. The Prime contractor responsible for the pedestrian bridge work is substantially complete and is preparing their closeout documents and some punch list items. The GC has begun the work for the closet door frames on the first floor and anticipates that this work will be completed by next month. They have begun to remove debris, materials, equipment and clean up the north side of the staging area and on the east side of the academic wing; The work on the soffits at the four windows at the end of each hallway on the third floor will begin the week of February 10th.
We anticipate substantial completion of the base bid project work by the end of February weather-permitting, with the exception of any weather-related exterior finish work and remaining added scope work / punch list items.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How were the capital project items identified?
A Bond Advisory Committee of 30 community members worked from August through November 2016 to assess the needs of the district and compile its suggestions for meeting those needs. The consensus of the Committee was that expansion and renovations are necessary and the need is immediate. Besides obvious physical necessities across the district, state education regulatory guidelines were considered throughout the process. Based on the Council’s guidance, the Board of Education drafted many iterations of the capital project, and in January approved the version being put up for vote on March 28th.
What is this capital project going to cost me?
$75 per $100,000 of assessed property value is the 24-year annual average cost to Port Chester taxpayers.
Why not just commit to larger class sizes?
Because smaller class sizes contribute to better academic achievement, test scores and increased graduation rates. Smaller class sizes improve teacher-to-student ratios, which allow teachers to spend more time with each student and tailor instruction for individual needs. Students are more engaged and attentive in smaller classes and have less disciplinary issues. Smaller class sizes can accommodate the needs of special education classes, as well as enrichment programs.
Wouldn’t split sessions solve the problem of classroom space?
Based on New York State Education Department requirements for grades 9 through 12, a sample high school split session schedule would look like this:
Split sessions would cause significant duplication in class offerings. We would also need to provide equal access to athletics, student clubs and organizations, marching band, theater, cheerleading, and all other extra-curricular activities to students in both sessions. The resulting major changes in working conditions would require negotiations with administration, teachers and support staff. A split session schedule would increase personnel costs, and its impact on working parents would be significant.
- Session I: 7:00 am-12:30 pm or 7:00 - 1:00 pm with a 30 minute lunch
- Session II: 1:00 pm – 6:30 pm or 1:30 - 7:30 pm with a 30 minute lunch
If classroom overcrowding is the issue, why build new athletics and arts facilities?
Athletics and the arts provide additional avenues for students to gain college acceptances and scholarships. Our high school gymnasium also includes teaching stations that are at maximum student capacity and overbooked for the number of instructional periods needed. It does not meet National Federation of State High School Association standards or provide adequate seating. We currently rent from Purchase College for games. The proposed new gym would eliminate the substantial cost of rent, provide the needed educational space and make us eligible to host tournament and championship games.
Our grass football field is overused and degrades seasonally, which limits its availability for much of the school year. This has kept us from offering a comprehensive athletic program. A synthetic turf field would not only allow us to expand our athletic offerings, but would cost far less to maintain annually.
Our musical ensembles currently rehearse on the auditorium stage, which interferes with other academic scheduling. Our band director utilizes a closet as an office to help maximize available space for students. The new band room will provide dedicated storage and seating for more than 120 musicians; the choral room will provide a long needed dedicated space for our vocalists. These moves will free up the auditorium for additional educational programming, including dance and theatre classes.
Why not include funds in the annual budget year to year to complete this work?
Interest rates are currently at historic lows, which means that now is a fiscally responsible time to borrow. Additionally, the magnitude of the capital project could not be funded in one annual budget cycle – even for the improvements to just one school – so dividing the project up over multiple cycles would take a considerable amount of time and additional expense.
How much state aid is available for the capital project?
66% New York State reimbursement on allowable expenses is available for this project.
Will the whole community share the benefits as well as the cost?
Yes. The new and improved educational, recreational and athletic spaces will be available to community members, including civic organizations, arts groups, athletic teams and others.
What is Port Chester’s Plan B if the voters do not approve the capital project?
The school board will still have the responsibility to immediately address the need for increased instructional spaces at Port Chester High School. It is likely that the use of temporary classrooms would need to be pursued.
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School by School Snapshot
Here is snapshot of what the 2017 Capital Project will make possible for each school:
Port Chester High School
When our middle and elementary school students reach the high school, the student body is projected to be 1,300 to 1,500. The building, in its current state, cannot provide the comprehensive high school education our students deserve. This plan will maintain the historic character of the building, while providing the space needed for increased course offerings that will prepare our students for college or employment after graduation. It additionally includes spaces for the arts and athletics that will benefit our entire community.
- 11 New Academic Classrooms
- New 3-Room Science Suite
- New Regulation Size Gymnasium
- New Full Size Band & Choral Rehearsal Spaces
- New Synthetic Turf Athletic Field
- New Bleacher Refurbishment
- New Concession Stand
- Renovated Locker Rooms
- Renovation & Repurposing of Existing Gymnasium to Multi-Purpose Room
Port Chester Middle School
This building is not included in the 2017 capital project because all classroom spaces and educational resources are currently adequate. Since 2006, the planetarium and four science labs have been renovated. A new roof has been installed, and outdoor areas have been upgraded with new masonry. Technology has been maintained to stay current, and the school operates in a completely Wi-Fi enabled environment.
John F. Kennedy Elementary School
- 8 new classrooms for General and Special Education classes
- 1 new small group instructional classroom
- New Gymnasium
- Renovated Library & Media Center
- Renovated Maintenance Facility
King Street Elementary School
- Additional Parking & Drop-Off Area
- New Gymnasium
- 2 New General & Special Education Classrooms
Park Avenue Elementary School
- 4 New Classrooms
- Complete Media Center/Library Renovation
Thomas Edison Elementary School
The interior facilities of this building meet the needs of its students. However, children learn through play, and this school is receiving a much needed synthetic turf play area. The school's stage will also receive upgraded lighting.
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