Pelham Board of Ed: A House Divided

in pelham •  9 months ago

Pelham, NY, Board of Ed meeting February 5, 2018

Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ took a straw poll of the board members:
Hutchinson Elementary: New building or renovate/expand?

Liaskos: Renovate-Expand
Bratone Childs: New Building
Imperato: New Building
Acampora: New Building
DeDomenico: New Building
Molineaux: Renovate-Expand
Smith: New Building

These were informal statements of position, not actual votes, and were preceded by a lengthy discussion about the cost of renovating Hutchinson Elementary School versus the financing associated with a new build-out. One renovation-expansion option would result in $600,000 per year less debt service, for 20 years, compared with the known cost of a building replacement. A new building would be debt financed over 30 years. At current levels in Pelham, each $600,000 in additional revenue per year requires a 1% tax increase.

In a new Hutchinson building project, one design requires $2.5 million for rock removal, with total project cost at $42.4 million. A 7,000 square foot gym scaled back to 3,500 sf would cut $1.7 million in costs. The old building would be demolished. 40 off street parking spaces are planned. There is another option under consideration including 6 additional classrooms with a total cost of $46 million. An 18 foot traffic lane is in the plan that would accommodate busses and vehicles for Special Education students.

There was no discussion regarding educational mission or the goals for the proposed new Hutchinson Elementary. There were no comments about developing a magnet program, or about the re-drawing of school attendance zone lines.

Other plans call for various improvements and additional classrooms, 3 rooms initially, at Prospect Hill Elementary, at a cost of $11.9 million. Middle School/High School renovations: $4 million. Utilization at the middle school and high school is 96%, according to Board member Tom Imperato.

Pelham Village Mayor Michael Volpe attended the meeting, stating that the new school would remediate traffic problems on Lincoln Avenue. "I'm in favor of this." said Volpe. With 8 classrooms more than the current building, it's unclear how auto or pedestrian traffic would be alleviated. Maybe he is referring to the reconfiguration of the dropoff area.

The Pelham school board is in between a rock and hard place.

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