A Community-Minded Initiative
The Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District is proposing a $79.95 million capital project that will go before voters on March 28, 2017. This initiative, developed with the guidance of a community-driven Bond Advisory Committee, will address critical building needs. It’s a forward-thinking plan that will create improved learning spaces to best serve our growing student body. Community members, including those with civic organizations, arts groups, athletic teams and more, will also be welcome to utilize these spaces.
21st Century Learning Spaces
This capital project would add the space needed to solve the district-wide problem of classrooms functioning at or near capacity – an issue the district was cited for by the Middle States Accreditation Commission. The plan is critical to meet the needs of a student body that is forecasted for continued growth.
Lack of space in our buildings has led to many elementary class sizes that exceed the State Education Department recommendations. Without adequate classrooms at the secondary level, our district is unable to offer the electives and honors level courses available in many surrounding districts. Valuable programs like the school’s International Baccalaureate program, highly regarded by college admissions officers, are also at risk. This initiative will focus on creating 21st century learning spaces with better teacher/student ratios and academic options to meet the needs of every student.
Planning for Academic Success
Smaller class sizes improve student outcomes by providing more time for teacher instruction. More class offerings lead to more engaged learners, improved graduation rates, and higher college acceptances.
The capital project additionally includes facility upgrades for athletics and the arts. The proposed new high school gymnasium would increase capacity for instruction, while bringing competition space up to State High School Association standards. This would enable the district to host state tournament and championship games. New full size rehearsal spaces for the award-winning band and choral programs will make space for greater educational programming on the presently overused auditorium stage.
All in all, this plan will raise the academic profile of the Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District across all grades and student abilities.
A Sensible Investment for the Future
The 2017 capital project is a sound plan to secure funding through borrowing and state aid. The timing is right since interest rates are historically low, and previous debt will be expiring in the near future. This plan will have a long term positive impact and provide annual cost savings by keeping more special education students in district for instruction. In the past decade, our district has undertaken proactive measures to upgrade, but even with these efforts, our schools are inadequate to meet the needs of our students and community. This plan includes new and renovated spaces for 5 out of 6 schools, and will maintain all neighborhood elementary schools. In addition, it will increase curb appeal and create spaces that community groups will be welcome to use.
The consensus of the Bond Advisory Committee is that expansion and renovations are necessary and should begin as soon as possible. Better facilities make better districts, which make better communities; better communities increase home values. That is a cycle of value-adding for all of Port Chester that can begin with approval of this capital project on March 28.