Construction is almost complete in the new three-story front of Sleepy Hollow High School. "We’re going to make the critical move during February break," Superintendent Dr. Howard Smith said in an interview last week.
During that transition, high school students will move into the new west-wing addition, and middle school students will move into the space occupied by parts of the existing high school. The space left empty by the middle school students will then undergo its renovation. Next summer, parts of the old high school will undergo a renovation.
This schedule was designed, in part, to have the smallest negative impact on student life, Smith explained during a recent tour of the west wing.
Apparently, there were several ways to conduct the transition, but Smith said officials wanted the high school students’ February move to be permanent. During the tour, construction workers appeared to be putting the finishing touches in the hallways and spacious classrooms — each one to be equipped with the popular SMART Board technology.
The new brightly-lit stairwells are now outfitted with large mural-like energy efficient windows emitting sunlight and giving students an optimal view of the Hudson River. When the entire construction project is complete — at a cost of $66 million — students will have a new gymnasium, auditorium, locker rooms, a classroom for TV production and digital media, and a new high-ceiling library featuring a state-of-the-art computer lab.
Smith said the project was launched for several reasons, including an overcrowding problem and the need to use space differently, such as the latest educational trends calling for smaller classrooms in special education. Also, currently the high school and middle school students eat together in the cafeteria, which Smith acknowledged is a problem from the obvious standpoint of different behavioral expectations from such a large age range. Smith said the completed project would create distinct high school and middle school areas of the building — such as separate entrances, but would also share the same areas for purposes that make sense — such as a common space in part of the library to avoid duplicating particular services.
The new gymnasium should be completed in February, but temporary classrooms for the middle school will occupy the space for the rest of the school year. The new auditorium should be done this May. And the cafeteria renovation will be conducted over the summer.
The entire project should be finished by December 2008, Smith said. Meanwhile, the district is awaiting final approval from the state before it begins $8 million in renovations at Washington Irving Elementary School. The scope of this project includes larger classrooms, an expanded library, a new art room, renovated music rooms and a renovated auditorium as well as new bathrooms and windows. The utility infrastructure, such as the heating and electrical systems, will be updated as well.
Smith said renovations might begin this summer in Washington Irving’s auditorium. Eventually, the goal is to move the sixth-graders up to the middle school, which could take place as early as January 2009.