Last month, board members unanimously approved a “historic” $106,479,575 capital bond project proposal that would include sweeping, district-wide infrastructure upgrades that would “greatly influence the teaching and learning environment for every student, teacher and staff member in New Rochelle’s school community.”
According to the Board, because the district is paying off significant debt in the next few years, there will be a minimal impact on New Rochelle taxpayers. Additionally, the district is set to receive nearly $50 million in building aid from the State Education Department.
Citing last summer's ceiling collapse at Webster Elementary School as a glaring example of the need for infrastructure improvements, Schools Superintendent Brian Osborne said that repairs "urgently need to be done."
"This is affecting our academic program's professionalism. The community is proud of its public education, it's a reason so many people come to New Rochelle," he noted. "When you look at our buildings from afar, they're great, magnificent structures, but as you get closer, you notice the buildings are deficient."
The Board decided to present the bond proposal publicly following a district-wide review of each school building by the Districtwide Health and Safety Commitee, which then in turn collaborated with 10 school-based health and safety committees that put together a "Building Condition Survey." Once completed, the surveys showed that all 10 school buildings are rated “unsatisfactory.” Once potential work is completed, all buildings will earn a “satisfactory” rating.”
Webster Elementary Principal Melissa Passarelli said that the improvements are necessary if the district hopes to avoid a potential disaster.
"When the ceiling collapsed in one of the classrooms, we were just fortunate that schools were out. If schools were in session, it would have been catastrophic," she added. "Parents drop their children off to school each and every day, and expect their children to be safe. This bond speaks to those issues of health and safety."
If approved, projects and repairs included in the bond would include an infrastructure overhaul, replacement athletic playing fields, and additional health, safety and structural issues that were identified in the survey.
At each school, the following amounts would be spent:
- New Rochelle High School - $35,711,103;
- Isaac E. Young Middle School -$9,622,710;
- Albert Leonard Middle School - $8,284,620;
- Henry Barnard School - $4,538,697;
- Columbus Elementary School - $9,644,957;
- George M. Davis, Jr., Elementary School - $8,935,190;
- Jefferson Elementary School - $5,942,532;
- Trinity Elementary School - $5,544,432;
- William B. Ward Elementary School - $12,811,975
- Daniel Webster Elementary School - $5,443,359.
The $106 million bond referendum and $253 million schools budget vote will be held from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday. Polling locations can be found here.
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