Article Update: The Future Facilities Project passed by an overwhelming majority, 808-215.
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.”
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.”
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.
[tinted box hed]
A $45.5 Million Lesson Plan
[tinted box body]
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 center● Pierre 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
● 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 cafeteria● Spencer 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