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Administration to Present Plans for Greenacres at August 24 Meeting

greenacresschoolThe Scarsdale School Administration is moving full steam ahead with plans to add a large addition to Greenacres Elementary School. In a July 24th email to the community, Superintendent Hagerman and Assistant Superintendent Stuart Mattey provided a report on their next steps for the project. They have asked district architects BBS to provide 3D drawings of the expansion plans and retained several other firms to move the process forward.

Among these firms is Park East Construction Corp. for construction management, JC Broderick and Associates to perform the SEQRA – or environmental impact review – and Warren & Panzer Engineers for air testing and monitoring for the presence of asbestos and lead. In addition, municipal finance consultants from Bernard P. Donegan Inc. will present a bond timeline and options for financing the bond and information on the tax impact.

For those in town this week, the Scarsdale School Board will hold a meeting on Thursday night August 24 at 7:00 pm at Scarsdale High School where representatives from these firms will be present.

At the meeting, district architect BBS is expected to present 3-D renderings of the exterior and interiors of the new portions of the building as well as renderings of how the building would look during construction. Park East will address the possibility of placing temporary classrooms in trailers during the construction and will review cost estimates from BBS for accuracy.

The district is in the process of forming two building committees: the first is a Greenacres Committee composed of administrators, teachers, parents and community members. Their charge is to "provide feedback, and to work with BBS and Park East on final design, logistics, safety, construction planning, and the like." The Greenacres PTA is currently looking for three parents to serve on this committee that will meet from 3-5 pm on Tuesday afternoons, beginning September 5.

A District-wide Facilities Committee will include "representatives from each building, including parents, teachers, administrators, Board of Education member(s), and community member(s). This Committee will be tasked with creating and carrying out a communications plan and serving as project/bond ambassadors at each school and at community-related functions."

The last board meeting was on July 6, where six of the seven members of the Board of Education agreed to ask the administration to move forward with the plans.

However, many open questions remain and parents who will have children in the school during the three-year renovation have expressed their concerns. One group of Greenacres parents with young children are fearful of the potential environmental and safety hazards posed by a major renovation with kids in the school. In particular, they are worried that asbestos, lead based paint, mold, dust, noise, and other construction hazards pose risks to the children's health, safety and the quality of the learning environment. The Greenacres Elementary School Task Force retained attorneys Zarin and Steinmetz and environmental experts "to monitor the District's compliance with environmental and legal requirements related to the proposed Greenacres renovation."

The Scarsdale School administration has laid out a very ambitious timeline to propose plans for Greenacres and the balance of district schools - in time for a December 2017 referendum on a $60 million bond. In addition to $33.5 million for the addition at Greenacres, the administration is proposing to spend about another $30 million on priority 1, 2, and 3 items at other district schools. This list of projects was formulated by the administration without input from the community, who may want to weigh in on what work should be done. In addition, groups like the League of Women Voters and the Scarsdale Forum who are studying the issues may not have time to provide input before the plans are finalized.

It's not clear whether opposition from parents and Greenacres community members will have any impact on the timeline and if there will be an opportunity for the community to review the entire list of district projects to prioritize them or consider needs. The assessment of environmental impacts, construction plans and cost analysis for Greenacres will all have to proceed rapidly to meet the proposed schedule. Once presented, the plans will need to be communicated and sold to taxpayers if the bond is to pass.

For now it appears that the administration is considering their plan a done deal and putting all resources in place to present this bond referendum to the community in December.

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