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Port Chester Schools Votes On $80 Million Projects

A placard outside Port Chester High School reminds residents to vote for the $80 million schools' renovation bond. The projects are eligible for about 66 percent reimbursement in state aid.
A placard outside Port Chester High School reminds residents to vote for the $80 million schools' renovation bond. The projects are eligible for about 66 percent reimbursement in state aid. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Hundreds of students, parents and teachers turned out for a rally at Port Chester High School on Thursday in support of an $80 million bond for new construction at five schools. The vote is Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Port Chester Middle School.
Hundreds of students, parents and teachers turned out for a rally at Port Chester High School on Thursday in support of an $80 million bond for new construction at five schools. The vote is Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Port Chester Middle School. Photo Credit: Provided
Port Chester Schools Superintendent Edward Kliszus gave an update last month on the proposed $80 million renovation of crowded, aging schools throughout the district. Tuesday's public vote runs from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Port Chester Middle School.
Port Chester Schools Superintendent Edward Kliszus gave an update last month on the proposed $80 million renovation of crowded, aging schools throughout the district. Tuesday's public vote runs from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Port Chester Middle School. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Polls are open until 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28 at Port Chester Middle School seeking community support for $80 million in renovations at five schools.

If approved, the bond money would pay for new athletic facilities, new classrooms at every school but the middle school in the Port Chester-Rye Union Free District, as well as other capital improvements.

Port Chester Middle School is located between Bowman and Westchester Avenues in Rye Brook.

Residents defeated an earlier $41.5 million school renovation proposal in December 2015.

The newly-proposed capital bond project is eligible to receive state reimbursement for two-thirds (or 66 percent) of allowable construction expenses.

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

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.

The breakdown of spending on the newly-proposed 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.

“The changes proposed by this capital bond project are crucial for us to be able to provide exceptional learning experiences for our current and future students,” said Superintendent of Schools Edward Kliszus.

The capital project would add space to solve the districtwide problem of crowded classrooms.

Smaller class sizes would 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.

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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