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$80 Million School Renovation Plan Detailed At Port Chester Meeting

Port Chester Schools Superintendent Edward Kliszus gave an update last month on the proposed $80 million renovation of crowded, aging schools throughout the district. A public meeting on the March 28 bond issue is set for Wednesday, March 8 at 7 p.m.
Port Chester Schools Superintendent Edward Kliszus gave an update last month on the proposed $80 million renovation of crowded, aging schools throughout the district. A public meeting on the March 28 bond issue is set for Wednesday, March 8 at 7 p.m. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Residents of the Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District will be able to learn details and ask questions about an $80 million school renovation project during a public meeting on Wednesday evening, March 8.

The meeting about the community bond project begins at 7 p.m. in the Port Chester Middle School auditorium.

District spokeswoman Caryn Furst said Wednesday's event also will feature the music of the Port Chester High School Jazz Ensemble, directed by Mike Miceli.

Port Chester taxpayers are being asked to approve the school renovation bond issue on March 28. The project involves extensive work at five of the district's six schools. The March 28 vote will run from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The capital project plans were developed with the guidance of a Bond Advisory Council.The total cost of all additions, renovations and upgrades is $79,950,000.

If approved, the 24-year average annual cost to Port Chester taxpayers will be $75 per $100,000 of property assessment.

The designated polling place for the March 28 vote is Port Chester Middle School at 113 Bowman Ave. in Rye Brook.

The capital project would add 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.

“This project is necessary to ensure that we can continue to serve our current and future students with an exceptional learning experience by giving them the space and attention they deserve,” said Superintendent of Schools Edward Kliszus. “The consensus of the Bond Advisory Council, and subsequently the Board of Education, is that expansion and renovations to district facilities are necessary and should begin as soon as possible.”

A huge benefit of this project is smaller class sizes which improve teacher-to-student ratio and allow for the type of tailored instruction that contributes to better academic achievement, test scores and graduation rates, according to school officials.

All of the district's school buildings are aging, with outdated heating, cooling and water systems as well as serious overcrowding. The student population at the middle and high schools has risen by more than 20 percent in the past seven years with continued growth forecast through 2020, according to district officials.

Space added by the capital project would also allow for added services to students with disabilities, and allow them full access to the mainstream curriculum. At the secondary level, it would provide more space for elective and honors classes, such as the International Baccalaureate program, to better prepare students for college and employment after graduation.

The capital project includes facility upgrades for athletics and the arts. Among these, the proposed new high school gymnasium would increase capacity for instruction, while bringing competition space up to New York State High School Association standards. This would enable the district to host state tournament and championship games. New full-size rehearsal spaces for the choral and band programs will make room for greater educational programming in the overused auditorium.

For more detailed information on the proposed capital project, including answers to frequently asked questions, visit www.portchesterschools.org .

An earlier school board meeting as well as an archived video of the Bond Advisory Council's presentation can be found by clicking here.

The breakdown of spending on the various projects includes almost $50 million at Port Chester High School, $15 million at John F. Kennedy Magnet School, nearly $12 million at King Street School, nearly $3 million at Park Avenue School and roughly $292,000 at Thomas A. Edison School.

This is the second time district officials have tried to persuade local taxpayers to approve funds for the improvements.

Residents defeated a $41.5  million bond vote by a wide margin for the school district in December 2015.

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