Facilities Update The fourth in a series

We’re reaching out to the community once again to update you on our District facilities needs, with a particular, but not sole focus, on Greenacres School.

Some members of the community have expressed concern that the District is minimizing commitments made in the past to upgrade its facilities, particularly at Greenacres. I want to assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.

This “pause” in public discussions is simply that -- an opportunity to review the architect’s assumptions that led to the current proposed options to determine their accuracy and whether or not we are addressing/solving the right problems. In working through the assumptions systematically and reporting out on our findings, some residents believe that we are minimizing the significance of the issues or our commitment to making improvements. In the last week, I have heard repeatedly that some residents think that we intend to do nothing more than add new “paint and curtains”. As a reaction to this erroneous assumption, another robo-email campaign has emerged, calling for only one possible solution: a new building. Anything less than this is being viewed as a betrayal of the perceived commitment made by the District to the Greenacres community and would present major health hazards to our students.

Since the initial presentations of proposed options by our architects, there have been additional versions for both a major renovation and a new building. As longtime residents here know, in past years there have been extensive renovations to most, if not all, of our existing buildings while students have been on the premises. In fact, we are starting this cycle again as we begin the work that was part of the 2014 bond. The only reason that a new Greenacres school was initially proposed was because there was land available in the lot across from the current school -- it is a luxury that we were afforded in this situation that is not available to most of our other schools. Moreover, the District would be extremely short-sighted to limit our options to one, since, as it has been explained repeatedly, any proposed work at Greenacres will have to occur within the context of a larger District bond that would provide much needed work to other buildings as well. If we limited our Greenacres options to one, it would not provide the appropriate flexibility needed in other, equally important work across the District.

I want to be very clear that we understand that Greenacres has some significant needs, and we intend to address those. But we are continuing to identify the real issues there, both instructionally and operationally, in light of the fact that we were given inaccurate information about the school’s condition, particularly with regard to classroom sizes, one of the major drivers in developing the proposed options.

Naturally, we cannot examine Greenacres in isolation, but must consider its needs in the context of all our elementary school buildings, ensuring general parity. To that end, we have taken new square footage measurements of all of our 1st-5th grade classrooms in each of our elementary buildings. With these in hand, we will now have a clearer sense of how Greenacres compares to other instructional spaces across the District. We will continue to analyze these, along with the other Greenacres needs identified by the architect, building committee, principal, faculty, and parents.

As the current proposed options were based on a number of flaws, it is unlikely they will continue to be viable in our continuation of this work, and we will look at other, more carefully tailored options.

Some believe Greenacres was shortchanged when the community voted on a 2014 bond to make improvements District-wide, understanding that Greenacres would “get its turn” during the next bond. While that was certainly an expressed sentiment, it is important to note that all of our schools receive repairs, improvements, and updates outside the formal bond process. For example, the Greenacres building has benefited from a number of recent improvements, including a new front office and conference room (to address a major concern around safety and meeting space), a Maker’s Space for students to continue working in STEAM areas, and a new teachers’ lounge. Additionally, there have been many more minor repairs, including roofing, window replacements, painting, and the like.

Whatever the future might hold in store for Greenacres, we must be absolutely sure that we are making thoughtful and informed decisions, and acting as prudent stewards of our District resources.

Search for a New Architect

The first major recommendation resulting from our “pause” is to employ a new architect for the Greenacres work and beyond. District administration will be putting out a Request for Proposals for a new architectural firm that specializes in innovation, space utilization, sustainability efforts, and New York public school experience. Our Facilities Committee is currently identifying firms of interest in early December and recommend firms to the Board of Education on Dec. 12. Requests for Proposals will be due by Jan. 18, 2017, and the finalists will be interviewed by the Board of Education by Feb. 7. We hope to approve the finalist on Feb. 13.

It is still our goal to have proposals on Greenacres well before the end of this school year in order to align these with other work from the District’s Master Facility Plan that will come the basis of the next bond proposal.

Construction Work to Begin

Construction bids for projects approved by voters in December 2014 have recently been approved by the Board of Education, paving the way for work to begin.

The projects awarded are as follows:

● Heathcote – Improve the existing multi-purpose room/lunch area; add a student services office corridor; and construct a new multi-purpose room;

● Edgewood - Replace/expand/renovate library; relocate office within existing building footprint; construct new portico at front of building to define main entrance from the street;

● Middle School - Add additional orchestra rehearsal room and storage area to northeast corner of Middle School; renovate former custodial offices to create new instructional music space;

● High School - Renovate existing space in and around gyms A/B to create a Learning Commons; Improve courtyard and kitchen areas. In addition, the Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation pledged to donate $1.8 million in support of a new Design Lab and an additional $800,000 to build a new Fitness Center, both of which are also scheduled for construction this year.

Here are estimated construction periods, from start time through substantial completion, at each of our affected buildings.

HIGH SCHOOL

Fitness Center: December 5, 2016 - May 5, 2017

Design Lab: June 27, 2017 - November 3, 2017

Learning Commons: December 5, 2016 - August 25, 2017

Courtyard & Kitchen Area June 26, 2017 - August 25, 2017

HEATHCOTE

Existing Multi-purpose, Occupational

& Physical Therapy Spaces: June 26, 2017 - August 25, 2017

New Multi-Purpose June 26, 2017 - March 30, 2018

EDGEWOOD

Library Reconstruction June 26, 2017 - March 30, 2018

Office Relocation: June 26, 2017 - August 25, 2017

MIDDLE SCHOOL

Music/Multi-Purpose Space: December 5, 2016 - June 24, 2017

Existing Music Room Renovations June 26, 2017 - August 25, 2017

All construction areas will be marked and secured for safety and any areas requiring asbestos removal will have that work completed when schools are closed. If you visit one of the campuses impacted by construction, you may notice contractors’ trailers in cornered-off areas which will serve as their office during construction. Please note that all of these areas are designated as construction zones and are off limits to students, parents, and the public. If you have any questions regarding any of these projects please contact Stuart Mattey at smattey@scarsdaleschools.org.

Groundbreaking Ceremonies

Meanwhile, we have things to celebrate. Two groundbreaking ceremonies are being held in the next couple of weeks to celebrate the creation of new spaces in our District, completed thanks to the successful 2014 bond.

On Dec. 14, a groundbreaking will take place at the Middle School for the new orchestral rehearsal room. And on Dec. 20, a groundbreaking ceremony will take place for several projects, starting at Gyms A/B on the second floor, the site of the new Learning Commons, and concluding with visits to the sites of the new Design Lab and Fitness Center.

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