Upgrading Croton-Harmon Schools Is Up to Voters Dec. 13 

Article Update: The Future Facilities Project passed by an overwhelming majority, 808-215.

‘Of all the things that changed in life the past half-century, public schools are one of the few things that haven’t changed’ – Stephen Walker, Superintendent, Croton-Harmon School District

Updated approaches to education help today’s students better navigate tomorrow’s world, where, for example, trade school is as worthy a destination as university. But when those 21st Century methods meet an aging infrastructure, it’s time for stakeholders to spring into action.

Taking action is just what Croton-Harmon Union Free School District (CHUFSD) is doing. It’s a decision decades in the making. Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary School was built in 1954. Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School is 83 years old. Croton-Harmon High School is two years shy of 100.

Those numbers clarify why CHUFSD asked the public to vote in a referendum on Dec. 13 to approve a $45.5 million tax-neutral capital project that will “address current infrastructure-related items, preserve the integrity of school buildings and property, and create student learning spaces that allow for collaboration, creativity, and future-driven teaching and learning.”  

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According to an official statement, “Recommendations for the sweeping upgrades proposed for the District’s learning and recreational spaces were made by a Future Facilities Planning Team. Their focus is on four areas: teaching and learning; the arts; infrastructure; and athletics.”  

The District’s facilities, notes Superintendent Stephen Walker, “have reached the end of their usable lives. Of all the things that changed in life the past half-century, public schools are one of the few things that haven’t changed. The typical classroom from the early 1900s is fundamentally the same as now. We want to make sure our schools keep pace. When you make changes, kids respond to it in a profound way. They see that adults understand what they want out of their educational experience and that we are aligned with their needs. The quality of teaching affects everyone in our community.” 

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Superintendent Walker explains that, if approved, the new learning environment will be geared toward “Collaboration and critical thinking and fluidity of thought and creativity. In the learning center and STEAM center, we would take down some walls. If teachers want to collaborate and create a series of lessons, we will have movable walls. It is tied to multi-disciplinary learning to mirror the real world. It would be a 21st Century learning experience. We also value that students learn in different ways and explore a variety of passions.”

Denise Harrington-Cohen, Assistant Superintendent for Business, adds, “The Capital Project addresses our district’s continued focus on safety and security in our schools through the creation of a visitor vestibule at Croton-Harmon High School and installation of new security cameras at each of our schools.”

The project’s cost will not increase the tax levy going forward, says the District. To achieve tax neutrality, the District will be leveraging New York State Education Department Building Aid, timing the bond financing to align with declining debt, and using funds from the District’s existing Capital Reserve.”

For full details of the Capital Project > chufsd.org/future_facilities 

Bruce Apar is Editorial Director of River Journal North. 

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A $45.5 Million Lesson Plan

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The Capital Project includes $17.5 million in infrastructure work, most of which is related to the age of the buildings, including roofing, masonry, and heating and ventilation. The remaining $28 million would be dedicated to projects that include, in part …  

  • Croton Harmon High School > renovate auditorium, cafeteria, and current music suite; create innovative learning center and STEAM Center; provide air conditioning to cafeteria, music suite, new learning centerPierre Van Cortlandt Middle School > renovate current spaces to create new science classroom; new student services suite; improve outdoor learning space, new playing field and playground; fourth-floor conference suite; provide air conditioning for student services suite  
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    Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary School > create outdoor amphitheater/classroom space; convert current library to a research and maker space; renovate current gymnasium and provide air conditioning for kindergarten wing and cafeteriaSpencer Field Complex > installation of artificial turf field, new track, stadium lighting, bleachers and press box, concession stand and restrooms, scoreboard, improved site access and parking 

 

1 Comment

  1. Your article implies that the three buildings have not be upgraded since they were built and that is a mis-leading and false implication. The bonds that are being paid down, as referred to in the article, were for about $34million in improvements and additions to all three buildings about 20 years ago. That is where the new wing to the High School, the cafeteria and second gym came from. Also, the new wings to both PVC and CET, including the CET music room. They were massive upgrades that we are not yet finished paying off. Has the technology available in the past 20 years improved? Yes, but do we need to spend $45million more to improve the technology? I know my comments might be late but there was no comment space when this nearly identical article was published before the vote. I don’t oppose spending money for the kids. That is part of the compact we all make for public education. The last time it was because our school age population was expanding rapidly. That is no longer the case. The last time information was withheld from the public and it caused much outrage in the community, even though the expansion was proven to be necessary. Once again information was withheld from the community through the fallacious implications of decrepit infrastructure. I can only hope that our school taxes will not go up for our fixed income older residents forcing them to move. That was also implied in the article by carefully stating that this project will not raise the taxes.

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