Peekskill School Officials Explore Space Options

An enrollment spike and the recent closing of the Assumption School in Peekskill have school officials searching for ways to maximize or create space in the district.

Peekskill school officials already knew going into this school year that classroom space is going to be an issue for the next few years.

But news from the Catholic Archdiocese of New York that the Assumption School is closing in June brought the issue home even more. 

The school board discussed the options of constructing additional space to Woodside Elementary School, bringing in portable classrooms or reopening Uriah Hill school during Tuesday night's school board meeting. 

"I really don't see any other way around it," school Superintendent Jim Willis said Tuesday. "It's going to be an expense no matter which way we do it. We have to have more space for our kids."

Willis said the district received an influx of about 60 kindergarten students this school year. The Assumption School also has about 200 students, but all of those students don't necessarily live in the Peekskill school district.

Even if all the students at the Assumption School were residents of the Peekskill school district, it's possible that a good percentage could choose to enroll in nearby Catholic schools. Officials from the Archdiocese of New York said about 64 percent of their students were retained after they conducted the first round of Catholic school closures in 2010.

Temporary classrooms would cost the district $350,000, plus an additional $100,000 for an overhead canopy.

Willis said reopening Uriah Hill, which has been vacant for three years, is the one option that could provide revenue for the school district, because of the Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES has already expressed an interest in renting space from the building.

"We've had some discussions with BOCES and they look very good at this point," Willis said.

The district would move six pre-kindergarten classrooms to the Uriah Hill building and BOCES would rent the remainder of the space.

"You go through a large expense, but it's just an expense," Willis said. "This is an opportunity where we have an expense to open up, but we also have an opportunity to get some revenue."

An existing assistant principal would act as the building administrator for Uriah Hill if it's reopened.  Estimates were unavailable for the costs of constructing an addition to Woodside Elementary School or reopening Uriah Hill Tuesday.

Gregory J. Sullivan, assistant superintendent for business and administrative Services, said about $109,000 is available from the state's Expanding our Children's Education and Learning to help fund and rehabilitation work needed for the vacant building.

The district currently spends about $80,000 annually in maintenance costs for Uriah Hill.

On the downside, Uriah Hill has a number of issues that need to be addressed. The building has nearly 60 broken windows, some of the floors have asbestos tiles in them, the roof leaks  and there are plumbing issues that need to be resolved.

School board President Joseph Urbanowicz had concerns about the district's ability to create a plan, gain funding and get approval from the state Education Department before the start of the 2013-2014 school year.

Urbanowicz said school board officials also needed to have more information about the process needed to simply get Uriah Hill open, along with the costs and time needed to completely restore the building. He also said the board needed more long-range enrollment projections.

 Willis said he'd provide more information to the board in the coming weeks.

Antoinette Seifert January 24, 2013 at 02:32 PM
School officials in this town love to leave buildings in ruin so they can say that it's TOO EXPENSIVE to repair them so they NEED TO BUILD a NEW SCHOOL!!!! Why did they close all those schools in the first place?????????? When taken care of they will last almost forever. Look tat McKinley School it's beautiful. By the way they got rid of that too!!!! Make they can make a deal with Assumption SChool for their space???
sayitsnotsojack January 24, 2013 at 09:09 PM
I would like to for do work for the district, $100,000 for a canopy, $350,000 for what are trailers okay maybe a double wide do these bozos even ask for bids?
Dutch January 26, 2013 at 10:37 PM
Wow so many comments but hardly anyone goes to the board meetings. Take the time to address the board and perhaps things might change.
leesther brown January 26, 2013 at 10:45 PM
@Dutch same thing with the City Council meetings the only ones coming and and telling our leaders what to do with our tax dollars are folks that don't live here......#wakeuppeekskillians....
Liz Claire January 27, 2013 at 12:01 AM
Lee, I thought the School District has much more restrictive rules about public comment. Can't you only comment on the agenda at the end, and they don't broadcast the exchange? Or have they changed the rules?


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