EASTCHESTER, N.Y. The principals for Eastchester Middle School and High School made emotional pleas to the Board of Education at a work session held Tuesday night, asking the board to support a school bond that would ask voters to pay for new additions to their building.
"As a principal, an educator and a parent, I would be in tears," said High School Principal Dr. Jeffrey Capuano of a failure to add more space to his portion of the building. "The program as we know it will not be able to run without more space."
Dr. Walter Moran, principal of Eastchester Middle School agreed. "We need 10 more classrooms just to keep at our current level," he said.
The board is considering a two-pronged expansion for the building the two schools share on White Plains Road.
If the Board opts to add space to both the middle and high school portions of the building , the bond presented to taxpayers as early as October would be for an estimated $26 million. If the board opts to separate the projects the middle school expansion would cost an estimated $12.7 million. The cost for an expansion to the high school would be an estimated $13.4 million.
The expansion would add 12 new classrooms to each portion of the school buildings and five new science labs for the middle school and four for the high school. The proposed expansion would replace the two story cafeteria with a four-story addition.
The old gym would no longer be used for classroom space and would be restored to a gym. Several science labs would also be updated.
But Eastchester schools have not been able to get voters to support a bond since 2000 when a $12.3 million bond was approved. Those funds paid to add 4 classrooms and renovate the gym and cafeteria at Greenvale School, added a 12-classroom wing to Waverly School and added two classrooms to Anne Hutchinson School.
A bond for more than $25 million failed to win voter approval in 2006. In 2008, voters also nixed a two- pronged vote, one for roughly $19 million and a second for $ 5 million.
The Board itself was mixed on whether or not it should ask voters to support a $12.7 million bond this year to make space in the middle school, and then return to voters in a year or two seeking $13.4 million to renovate the high school or if the bond should simply seek $26 million in order to support both projects.
But although the board may be split on how to ask voters to support the bond, they all agree more space is needed.
"I don't think we can rest with the vision of the high school as presented by Jeff without an expansion," said Trustee John Curcio.
"I feel almost reckless, not acting in the best interest of the community to leave the middle school students as they are now," said Trustee Robert Summer.
Principals Capuano and Moran have said that the high school currently is 107 more students over capacity and the middle school has 181 more students than it can handle. The district has approximately 3,000 students but the bulk of those kids are still attending elementary school.
If the community does not support bonds to add more classroom space, the district may have to resort to having students come to school in two different shifts or having one school open earlier than the other.
The board will hold its next meeting on Aug. 23.
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