This story has been updated.
PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Residents of the Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District will be asked to approve a school renovation bond issue on March 28. The cost of the project involving five of the district's six schools is nearly $80 million.
At their Tuesday, Jan. 31 school board meeting, trustees OK'd the latest proposal set the date for a public vote, which will run from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on March 28.
The plan was developed with the guidance of a community-driven Bond Advisory Council.The total cost of all additions, renovations and upgrades included in the capital project 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All of the district's school buildings are aging, with outdated heating, cooling and water systems as well as serious overcrowding.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 additionally 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 space for greater educational programming in the presently overused auditorium.
For more detailed information on the items included in the capital project, including answers to many frequently asked questions, visit www.portchesterschools.org .
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.
Tuesday's school board meeting as well as an archived video of the Bond Advisory Council's presentation can be found by clicking here.
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.