Peekskill School Board Moves Forward with Plans to Open Uriah Hill

School officials believe the school can be reopened in time for the 2013-2104 school year.

Uriah Hill Elementary School should be ready to receive students by the start of next school year, according to Peekskill school officials.

The Peekskill school board gave the go-ahead to the administration to begin preparations for the school's reopening in September, during Tuesday's board meeting.

Preliminary estimates for the restoration of the building are about $300,000, but the district has about $109,000 in EXCEL funds from the state that it can use to pay down the costs. The project may also be eligible for additional state building aid.

"Our student population at Woodside is just bursting at the seems, it's becoming unmanageable in terms of space for our children and our population is growing," said Jim Willis, schools  superintendent. "We had an additional three kindergarten classrooms this year that we didn't anticipate."

Willis said the district has looked at different options. One of those options include temporary classrooms, which would cost about $350,000, need approval from the state Education Department and would not present any revenue making opportunities to the public.

A public speaker also brought up the idea of using the Assumption School, which is closing at the end of this school year. But the Assumption School would still need to retrofitted to meet state standards, because Catholic schools don't of the same state requirements that public schools have, said John D'Angelo, an architect hired by the school district.

The best option for the school district is to reopen Uriah Hill, Willis said.

Uriah Hill was closed in 2009 as a cost saving measure. The district spends about $80,000 year maintaining the building.

D'Angelo, said the building's roof needs repairs, 56 broken windows need to replaced, the plumbing system needs to be fixed and sections of the flooring were damaged due to water leakage.

"Whether Uriah Hill is opened or not, these are repairs that need to be made just to maintain the integrity of the building," D'Angelo said.

Security doors and an elevator lockout also need to be added if the district moves forward with plans to lease space in the building to the Putnam-Northern Westchester BOCES.

Board President Joseph Urbanowicz wondered if the roof was still under warranty.

"I though that the roof was replaced —maybe it was 15 years ago," Urbanowicz said. "Whenever it was, I would think that it would still be under warranty."

School officials said they would investigate if any warrant exists for the roof or any other structures inside the building.

Although the district is working under a tight schedule, Willis and D'Angelo believe the building can be ready in time for the next school year.

"SED essentially has two reviews," D'Angelo said. "An architectural review, which looks at the roof component, windows—the construction components and the mechanical review thats looks at the plumbing, mechanical and electrical components of the work."

D'Angelo said the architectural review happens much quicker than the mechanical review and can be done in six weeks. The mechanical review can take up to four months to be completed, according to D'Angelo.

"We can keep it as an architectural project and get it to the state by March 1, anticipate approval mid-April to late April…the timeline can be done," D'Angelo said.

Board Member Colin Smith wondered if the district had a contingency plan in case the project isn't completed by the start of the 2013-2014 school year.

"Would [the students] be OK to stay where they are now?" Smith asked.

Willis said the district could rework students around  next year for a short period of time. 

Said D'Angelo: "We're talking about submitting to the state to take advantage of the building aid and the EXCEL funding. There's no requirement to submit anything to the state. The certificate of occupancy is still valid—the district can open it tomorrow if they want after cleaning it up and taking care of the most immediate needs."

hunter for life February 07, 2013 at 12:16 AM
Does that makes sense to open a bldg ,For only 4 classrooms , its called wasting Money !!!!!!!!!!!
sayitsnotsojack February 07, 2013 at 02:36 AM
Like everything these guys do this will cost twice as much and be a mess, what a bunch of know nothings. Just spend and tax that is the only thing they can do.l
shakemdown February 07, 2013 at 04:16 AM
I too agree that it should of never been closed, now wasn't BOCES already trying to rent space in the basement in 2009 when the school closed, what happened,and wasn't a lot of work done to that school right after it closed, if i'm not mistaken i do believe that a elevator was installed,i also thing that the roof was also worked on, because i live not far from there, and i remember seeing work being done around that time.
ussm February 07, 2013 at 01:49 PM
know you have asked the correct question!
ussm February 07, 2013 at 01:52 PM
8:49 am on Thursday, February 7, 2013 know you have asked the correct question


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