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Unused Peekskill Pool Could Be Alternative School

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- Some Peekskill High School students might be hitting the pool in order to hit the books next year.

School district officials are considering converting the pool room in the bottom floor of the administration building to classroom space to make room for a planned alternative education program for high school students who are not learning in the traditional classroom setting.

The district has not had such a program in several years but new superintendent James Willis has indicated the creation of such a program is a priority this school year.

At Tuesday's board of education work session, board trustees and district officials heard a presentation from architect John D'Angelo of the Elmsford-based firm Fuller  D'Angelo P.C. on how the space could be converted to a learning environment.

"Our plan is to take the entire pool area, infill the pool with metal framing and create a concrete slab deck over the pool tub," D'Angelo said.

The space would then be partitioned to create three, 730-square-foot self-contained classrooms, each with toilet facilities. One of the classrooms would have a folding partition to allow it to be divided if needed.

The lower level of the building, which sits across the street from Peekskill High School, already holds an out-of-school detention center and the athletic director's office as well as the athletic laundry room. In addition to the unused pool, which does not currently adhere to state safety codes and therefore cannot be used, there are also three locker rooms and a shower area.

To create the new classrooms, the renovations would include new ceilings ventilation and windows. Board members said they also wanted the classrooms to be modern learning centers with technology that would encourage students to participate.

"Something that's going to be an attractive program to students that makes them say, 'I want to be a part of that program'," said School Board President Joe Urbanowicz.

Willis agreed that other ways to engage students should be considered.

"This is an alternative high school for kids where it's not working in a traditional setting, that's why we want this," Willis said.

Director of Maintenance Carmine Crisci said the project would be done during the summer with other capital projects planned in the district. He said he and the facilities committee were looking into how to pay for the work with funds on hand.

Additional funding might also be required to address asbestos abatement Crisci said, adding, there is some indication that asbestos is in the window caulking and pipe insulation. Preliminary estimates of $50,000 are already being factored into project costs.  

"We're trying to keep the budget as tight as we could so we can do it within the current capitol project realocated funds," Crisci said.

In other news:

  • The district has sent out an RFP for tenants at the unused Uriah Hill Elementary School and has already started receiving bids from potential tenants. The district hopes to have paying tenants as soon as possible.
  • The school board was treated to a performance from students from Woodside Elementary School at the start of the meeting. Students from Ms. Valente and Ms. D'Asconi and Ms. Dwyer's classes sang a song called "There's No Place For Bullies In Our School" to highlight anti-bullying education (video here) and a large group of students sang Louie Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" in honor of Black History Month.



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