EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – With a swelling enrollment expected to reach the Eastchester High School in the coming years, district officials are reaching out to the public to help support a bond that will allow them to expand.
With enrollment on a steep rise, and expected to continue climbing, officials have concluded five years of research on enrollment and cost analysis 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.”
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.
“They’re using the old gym as a classroom, but really, all it is is an old gym with false walls,” high school student Michael Buckles said. “It was supposed to be temporary, but it’s becoming permanent. When you take a test, you can hear all the other classrooms.”
High School Principal Jeffrey Capuano added, “I can attest to the fact that our dedicated teachers have done an excellent job preparing students for life after Eastchester High School. Meeting the needs of the high school academic program housed in this outdated building has been a challenge, though it’s led to an innovative use of space.”
Through the rest of the summer, the Board of Education will seek input from the community and district architects, as they determine the scope of the potential project. In the fall, the district will provide more detailed information about the bond, a timeline and share the estimated cost.
“In keeping with the district’s stated goals, it is the responsibility of the Board of Education to provide fair and appropriate education that will meet student needs as they prepare to enter college, the work world and beyond,” Moran added. ”We want to create an environment conducive to learning.”
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