EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – Voters came out, and their voices were heard, as the special bond vote was overwhelmingly approved by locals to expand the Eastchester High School.
On Tuesday, voters approved the much-discussed bond, with 1,243 voters saying “yes,” against 598 “no” votes.
With enrollment on a steep rise, and expected to continue climbing, officials have evaluated five years of research regarding enrollment and initiated a cost analysis study that led to the approval of a draft plan by the Board of Education Facilities Committee, which is comprised of administrators, school architects and parents with a background in construction.
According to schools officials, the high school, which opened its doors to students in 1927, is in desperate need of renovations and an expansion, as students often find themselves crowding into temporary classrooms, sitting shoulder to shoulder in the cafeteria and struggling to find places to collaborate in the library, or otherwise.
“While its history is strong and vibrant, the high school building is aging and in need of updating, renovations and additional classroom space,” Superintendent Walter Moran said. “We want high school students to experience the kind of up-to-date facilities that are essential for the continuation of the high caliber education our students deserve and require.”
Now that it’s approved, the $26.9 million will be borrowed over 20 years with an interest rate of approximately 3 percent. It is estimated to cost homeowners an average of $26.63 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
High School Principal Jeffrey Capuano said that now that it's approved, the bond will go a long way toward improving infrastructure and will be a boon for the arts.
"While our enrollment boom requires additional classroom space, part of the bond also addresses our needs in the artistic realm as well," he said. "(The community's) commitment to this project will be an investment not only in our future artists, actors, dancers and musicians, but will have a direct impact not he artistic program of the high school in short order."
From 1996 to 2014, enrollment rose from 526 to 905 students. In 2015, the district reported an enrollment of 927 students, with a projected increase to 1067 by 2020, the year the current fourth grade class will enter the high school. The increased enrollment has forced administrators at the high school to take desperate measures, including converting the old gym into a series of temporary classrooms separated by partitions.
"As students return to school in September 2017, we anticipate that they will be greeted by a beautifully updated auditorium with new seating - including tablet desks for large-group instruction - paint and carpet," Capuano added. "It will also include performance-related items, including an installation of an appropriate, multi-purpose stage for our many performing groups, as well as sound system and lighting upgrades for both house and stage."
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