WEEK ENDING JANUARY 06 2023 | VOLUME 2 ISSUE NO. 19
Good afternoon and happy Friday,
It's great to see everyone back this week energized and ready to roll. I hope you had a great holiday and that your new year is off to a good start.
I'm going to start my brief this week with some exciting news. Wednesday evening, at the board of education meeting, I presented an outline of a potential $300 million capital project that would bring renovations, upgrades and revitalization to our schools over the next seven years. With this, I mean imparting new fresh energy into our schools. This isn't about fixing a window or updating the outside of an old building. I'm talking about moving in a direction that gives our students not only what they deserve but what they need. This is about revitalizing instructional spaces for our kids.
We have 18 campuses in our district with almost 2 million square feet. The average age of our school buildings is 95 years old. There is a lot of wear and tear that happens over that many years. Some things get fixed and other things don't. In some cases you can see it and sometimes we just get used to it. Our staff and students know and can feel it. We want to change that by taking an intentional step toward revitalizing our schools. While we have done some things in some places over the years, we really have not done a revitalization of an entire campus. That is the vision I have and is what I'm calling, The Schenectady Revitalization 2030. Last night I shared this vision with the board of education and asked for permission to move forward a plan with the intent of presenting a capital project proposal to Schenectady voters in May.
I'll share a broad outline of what we see included and an update on projects already planned or in the works. The slide deck of the presentation can be downloaded here. It includes extensive work to eight school buildings, central kitchen upgrades and addresses need with renovation in one way or another to a variety of schools.
Schenectady High School
Central Park Middle School
$ 25 million
$ 25 milllion
$ 11 million
Lincoln Elementary School
$ 12 million
Paige Elementary School
$ 6 million
Howe Elementary School
$ 13 million
Fulton Building (Keane)
$ 7 million
$ 15 milllion
District-Wide Building Condition Survey (BCS) Priority Improvements
$ 60 million
The largest project is Schenectady High School which includes transformation to support program improvements, athletic wing reconstruction, security enhancements, locker repair and replacement, bathroom reconstruction, ADA accessibility upgrades, office construction, replacement of vents and upgrading ventilation system and much more.
A list of identified work for each of the schools listed above is included in the presentation.
The Building Condition Survey priorities include work that needs to be done at campuses across the district.
The Schenectady Revitalization Plan 2030 would have 0 (zero) impact on taxes. I know you are wondering how we can do $300 million worth of work without impacting the pockets of our taxpayers. This is possible because we receive 98% state aid. The 2% balance would be covered with funding that is set aside in the district's capital reserve fund and Excel aid, which is intended to be used for state-approved construction and site work.
The planning for the project starts now with a target of a May 16 referendum. This is the same date that our 2023-2024 Budget will go out to vote but would be a separate vote. If voters approve the project in May, the work would move to design, collecting input and feedback, looking at documents and building utilization and many other things. The goal would be for the plan to be set in motion and our spaces to be transformed by 2030.
Wednesday night I also reviewed the smaller capital projects that had taken place in the district since 2014. These were smaller projects and there are things from the last two phases of those projects that are in the works and will continue.
Within the timeline and as part of the plan, the vision is to take the Steinmetz program out of its current location, to revitalize the entire school building and reopen it as a brand new Freshman Leadership Academy in the Fall of 2025. We will make upgrades and have a brand new school for our incoming high schoolers. This will also help with the need to create swing space at the high school while work is being done there. Additionally, Fulton School is empty and can serve as swing space for an elementary school when needed.
I also asked the board to provide some direction on Keane Elementary School which is a school building we are leasing from the Albany Diocese for approximately $250,000 a year. The board will look at cost comparisons and consider whether we should keep the school on line by renewing the lease or considering purchase of the building.
The detail and drafting in the presentation is not cut in stone. It's an initial outline of work that has been identified and gives examples of the potential for our schools over the next seven years. It's the work we have determined, in collaboration with SEI Design Group of Albany, that needs to be done.
The plan would also include pursuing a facility that would serve as our district Family and Community Engagement Center (FACE). Within that center would be our central registration, transportation, and special education offices. My vision is for that location to include a district parent center where parents would have access to technology and trainings. The facility would be open and offer programming into the evening and on weekends.
Ongoing plans include the high school tennis court reconstruction, Mont Pleasant athletic fields, Steinmetz entry vestibule and cafeteria improvements, district office secure vestibule, Yates kitchen renovations, Pleasant Valley kitchen reconstruction and addition, and updates to our playgrounds. These are funded through our Capital Repair Reserve Fund, School Lunch Reserve Fund, American Rescue Funds or Capital Outlay.
Schenectady High School
Mont Pleasant Middle School
Playground renderings left to right: Hamilton, Woodlawn, MLK, Pleasant Valley
The proposal would require a super-majority (60%) approval when it goes out to vote in May.
There will be much more to come. With this I wanted to make you and our school community aware that we are having these conversations and will be providing much more detail. We will be communicating with you each step of the way and seeking input as we move forward.
Video: Presentation on The Schenectady Revitalization Plan 2030
This month is National School Board Association Appreciation Month. While we did recognize our school board members in October, I would like to take the opportunity again to say thank you to them. Our school board members are volunteers who selflessly give time and energy to our students, staff and families of our community. They are important leaders in our community and I am grateful for all that they do. Please join me in thanking them for their dedication, commitment and service.
Congratulations to Jennifer Corrigan, a reading teacher at Pleasant Valley, and Jennifer Stevens, a math teacher at Schenectady High School, who earned National Board Certification (NBC) in 2022. NBC is the most respected professional certification available in education. Obtaining this certification takes hard work and a lot of time. Candidates must complete specific components and demonstrate advanced knowledge, skill, and practice. Our district has nearly 80 NBC teachers which is the second highest number of NBC teachers in New York State, second only to the New York City Department of Education. I also know there are other teachers who have begun the certification process. Our NBC teachers should be proud and we should all be very proud of them. I am grateful to all of our NBC teachers for your dedication and commitment to advancing your practice as a teacher in Schenectady. #SchenectadyRising
Reading Teacher at Pleasant Valley Elementary School
Math Teacher at Schenectady High School
Marissa Ray, our 2023 Teacher of the Year was recognized by the board of education Wednesday evening and presented with a plaque. Marissa plans to represent Schenectady in the New York State Teacher of the Year contest.
I'm excited to be launching a Superintendent's Student Advisory Council consisting of students in grades 5-12 who will meet with me monthly to share their thoughts and those of their peers. The best way to find out what's important to students, what's working and what's not, is to ask them and hear their ideas. The purpose of the committee is to raise student voice and give them the opportunity to provide input that will inform future decisions. I'm looking forward to forming our council and hearing hearing from our students. I've attached the flyer for any students who are interested to download.
After beginning the school year on the main campus of SUNY Schenectady, our Early College High School students started attending classes in 2023 at the downtown Center City campus for the first time. I know they are excited. We have a few photos below but we will will be stopping down there to take more pictures and to get some thoughts from the students soon. Watch for more.
This week we've been holding meetings for our current 8th graders and their parents regarding the pathways that are available to them next year at the high school. We've had a great turnout. Thank you to our school leaders, faculty and staff, students and parents. I hope you are as excited as we are about the opportunities that are available to students next year. We will be sharing more about our secondary redesign soon.
Prior to the winter break we held our Community School kick-off with a ribbon-cutting and logo unveiling. This was an exciting morning with a great turnout. We have been working on this initiative since last year so this was a big day for us. In addition to King, community schools are also in development at Keane, Hamilton, Paige and Van Coraler. Thank you to Dr. Cotto, to our community school coordinators, principals, community partners and all who are involved and collaborating with us in this work. The intent of our community schools is to provides resources and and a hub where students and families know they can go to get what they need.
Lastly, our partners at Schenectady County Public Health Services have asked us to share the schedule of COVID-19 vaccine pods for January. They now offer rapid molecular NAAT testing which returns a result in 15 minutes. So, patients leave knowing their result. They are not the same as the at-home rapid antigen tests. Results should fulfill any requirement that a PCR test would. The flyer with the schedule is here.
I hope you have a great weekend.
Anibal Soler, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools
This week's featured alumni is Keith Wood Ph.D, a 1990 graduate of Mont Pleasant High School. Keith credits two relationships at Mont Pleasant with inspiring him to pursue his career. "Jerry Rosen and Gary DiNola engrained a sense of pride in our community. Their no-nonsense approach to outworking opponents developed a work ethic that fueled a will to compete on the court. Later in life, this drive fueled my resolve to complete my doctoral studies and publish in my field."
Photo of the Week
Students at Washington Irving were excited to try out their brand new pedal desks. The desk is great for physical activity and involves more senses in learning.
City As Our Campus Presents "Let It Snow"
We have a variety of employment opportunities including administrative, teaching, office and middle management, custodial, safety and security, secretarial, paraprofessional, secretarial and more.
For a complete listing and to apply, go here.
Community Job Fair
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Observed
No School/District Offices Closed
January 24 - 27
Schenectady High School Regent Exam Days
Staff Notes and Reminders
DEI Work with Tangible Development
INFORMATION SESSION MONDAY
We are holding an informational session for staff regarding our upcoming DEI work with Tangible Development on Monday, January 9 from 4-6 p.m. in the Mont Pleasant Middle School Auditorium. Additional details were sent out by email on December 22 and January 4.
Staff Recruitment for February STEAM Program
We are looking to hire teachers, paras, and teacher leaders for the STEAM program that will be held over February recess. The program be held on Tuesday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. at King, Hamilton, Paige, Keane, and Yates. Up to 70 students in grades 1-5 will attend. Other elementary schools will be feeders to the host sites. Please keep an eye out for postings for the positions. They will be going out soon.
The following were appointed by the Board of Education since December 14. If you are new to our district "Welcome to Schenectady."
Donna Fowler, Director of Student Support Services
Lisa Meade, Assistant Director of Special Education
Kimberly Pilla, Assistant Director of Physical Education and Health
Athena DeCarmine, Family & Consumer Sciences, MPMS
Mark Graham, Business, CPMS
Meaghan Haugaard, Special Education, WIEC
James O'Brien, Engish, OMS
Punema Singh, WIEC
Devon Diego, Restorative Specialist
Tyler Hedgepeth, Restorative Practices Specialist
William Kent, Restrative Pracdtices Specialist
Middle Manager Association
Jason DeGraff, Director of Facilities II
James Spooner, Supervisor of Buildings & Grounds
Secretarial/Information Processing Specialist II
Nella Marley, Central Office
Kimberly Murray, Hamilton
Lashanda Blanks Keane
Ariel Miranda, CPMS
Aimee Demarest, Central Office
Justyne Rios, Pleasant Valley
Operations and Maintenance
Kisha Alexander, Custodian, WIEC
Peter Ford, Custodian
Raymond Jabonaski, Custodian, MPMS
Louis Liuzzi, Cleaner, MPMS
Teodoro, Maintenance, Grounds & Courier Assistant
Mark Phoenix, Maintenance Mechanic
Amber Riglioni, Woodlawn
Anthony Simmons, Senior Custodian, SHS
Masean Thrasher, Cleaner, SHS
Jeremy Van Keuren, Cleaner Lincoln
Joseph Writer, Cleaner, SHS
Culture & Community Engagement Specialist
Kimberly Tillman, SHS
Bernard Bush, CPMS
Ebony Edwards, Van Corlaer
Wilanna Lowery, Howe
Marcia McGill, Keane
Quanasia Williams, Oneida
Derek Adams, WIEC
Stefanie Bartley, OMS
Tesa Beddow, MPMS
Lavare Beeks, CPMS
Mandy Crawford, CPMS
Des'nae Felton, SHS
Jamie Gentile, Van Corlaer
Aaron Giumarra, Keane
Jonathan Green, MPMS
Sonya Hawkins, Zoller
Nyemiah Greggs, Hamilton
Javon Hicks, WIEC
Amy Lawyer, Lincoln
Kaela McCullough, Woodlawn
Jose Paris, MPMS
Tasha River, Pleasant Valley
Jesus Sanabria, OMS
Kissair Savage, King
Carmen Soto, SHS
Esai Sylvain, Paige
Kimberly Tillman, SHS
School Safety Officers
Zackery Deering, SHS
Richard Merlino, SHS/City As Our Campus
Felipe Moon, WIEC
John Sirles, SCLA
Sierra Courtright Lincoln
Allanah Ladd, SHS
Tarra Melville, Zoller
Teressa Amorosi, Pleasant Valley
Celica Casanova, Lincoln
Indira Chetty, Hamilton
Christian Corker, Zoller
Subhagni Etwaroo, Pleasant Valley
Thelma Harding, King
Nachea Langston-Mayers, Paige
Rajkumar Nandoo, Hamilton
Ashlie Lopez, Woodlawn
Jinelle Pollydore, Pleasant Valley
Aaliyah Ramcharan, Howe
Chantel Roberts, Paige
Sanam Shahani, Zoller
Dante Terry, Keane
Robin Upshur, Lincoln
Kamanie Verasammy, Paige
Siena Basketball 4th Annual Sensory Friendly and Autism Awareness Game
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