ICC board told district’s on the road to improvements

KINDERHOOK – The Ichabod Crane Board of Education received an update on plans for the major capital improvement project at the Tuesday, May 7 meeting.

In December, residents approved the $27-million spending plan for the project, which would include work on all the buildings in the district and construction of a road on campus connecting all three school buildings. Once the funds were approved, representatives from CSArch, the firm hired by the board to design the project, have been meeting with teachers and administrators to come up with a final design.

Melissa Renkawitz from CSArch went through the latest designs with the board at the meeting. She also talked about projects that can be added if construction bids for the work come in lower than expected. She said her firm has been conducting “exhaustive” meetings with Ichabod Crane staff about programming.

The plan includes major changes to the high school in the science, math and technology wings. They include adding a new section to the technology wing. There will also be upgrades to the art rooms and a new guidance office so that all the counseling services can be in one space.

The middle school building is also getting major work to upgrade the classrooms in the 4th and 5th grade wing. Those rooms originally had movable walls so that the space could be opened up but since the district moved the lower grades into the building when it closed two elementary schools off campus, the walls have been needed to make classroom space. The project would put permanent walls in that wing and all the windows would be replaced.

Ms. Renkawitz said the current long “patio” type windows would be replaced with windows at a normal height for safety.

The plan for that school also includes changes to the gym, replacing the current two spaces with one big space and raising the ceiling. Ms. Renkawitz said they were still discussing with the physical education teachers where to put a movable divider so that two gym classes can go on at the same time.

The other major change to the campus will be a road that will connect the middle school building to the primary school so that buses can pick up and drop off students at their school buildings without going onto State Farm Road.

Ms. Renkawitz said they have separated that project–and repairs to the high school auditorium roof–from the rest of the project so that those improvements can go to the state Education Department (SED) for approval before the rest of the project. She said if it all goes as planned, the road could be ready this fall.

The rest of the plan will not get started that soon. Ms. Renkawitz said that when they were done with the plans and have prices for the work from Turner Construction, the project manager hired by the district, the designs will go to SED for approval, which can take some time. She said the planned start date for construction of the majority of the project will be April of 2020.

Also at the meeting:

• The board held two public hearings before their regular meeting. One was for the proposed $41-million 2019-20 school budget and the other for a Smart Schools Investment plan to purchase technology for the district. There was no comment from the public at either hearing. The Smart Schools funds are part of the state’s Smart Schools Bond Act. The district was allocated $1.3 million to use for technology, infrastructure and security. The district must come up with a plan and spend the money, which will be reimbursed by the state. The board approved the plan in the consent agenda during the regular meeting

Residents will vote on the proposed school budget on May 21; the voting at the high school gym runs from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

• The board also discussed the third quarter academic reports with Acting Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow. Ms. Guntlow has been giving the board reports quarterly on student achievement to help meet board goals on graduation rates and academic intervention. She said the district is in the process of creating a summer school program for 7th graders. She also said that in the middle school there would be more help for students outside of regular class time.

The class failure rate in the high school has gone down, thanks to the staff. “The high school is really doing outstanding,” Ms. Guntlow said. But she said, “Our 7th grade needs help.”

The next regular board meeting will be June 4 at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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