Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Extensive renovations planned if school district capital plan passes tomorrow

High School to see major overhaul
Extensive+renovations+planned+if+school+district+capital+plan+passes+tomorrow

When residents go to the polls at Peekskill High School tomorrow, December 12, to vote on a referendum for $44.9 million in capital projects for the school district, they will be casting a vote in the gymnasium that is on the list of facilities to be upgraded. 

Our role is to “transform, innovate and modernize” our school facilities, said Dr. David Mauricio, superintendent of schools in an interview here with the District’s Director of Facilities Carmine Crisi. “One of the Board of Education’s goals is to make sure we have facilities, classrooms and a school environment, equivalent to those in Westchester County. We know we have school districts with beautiful facilities who are well resourced and we want that for our kids as well,” said Mauricio about the ambitious plan to improve school buildings. 

The $44.9 million spending plan will have no tax impact to residents. New York State reimburses the district for more than 80 percent of the costs of capital projects. There will be two parts of the referendum on the ballot. One is for capital upgrades and the second is for an energy performance contract.   

Feedback from students spurred a few of the items on the list of upgrades including new lighting in the high school hallways along with new ceilings and flooring. Mauricio said that 8th grade students in particular noticed the drabness of the high school’s hallways compared to the newer middle school building. 

Rendering of new entrance to Peekskill High School.

The high school, which opened in 1972, will retain its original footprint but will see major renovations, including a new entrance way. Currently there is no clear entrance to the building for students, parents and visitors. The lobby and vestibule and main office area will be renovated.  

Roofs at the high school and Hillcrest Elementary are proposed, since the 20 year warranty on both buildings is about to expire, said Crisi.  And since new roofs will be put in, it’s the time to install solar which will give the district the opportunity to receive funds for ceilings and lighting through the energy performance contract. 

Under the proposed upgrades, Hillcrest will see major site work including an asphalt parking lot instead of the current gravel parking areas. In addition, there will be rehabilitation of the back area of the building and a new playground and beautification of the area. 

Rendering of a proposed classroom design.

Oakside Elementary School on Decatur Avenue will also see major site improvements to the side entrance of the building and a reconfiguration of the playground area to allow for more teacher parking and a cutout of the sidewalk to allow parent drop off of children. 

There will be an outdoor classroom at Oakside enhancing the existing courtyard that sits in the middle of the building. A gazebo type of roof will allow students to study in an outdoor classroom, incorporating a turf area where children can sit to learn, even in the summer and spring when it gets too hot. 

Design of new LED lighting in classrooms.

Another outdoor classroom will be designed for the high school, off the STEAM lab. Students will be invited to create teams to design this outdoor learning space using a Shark Tank type of model where they will submit plans and a panel will judge and choose which option will be constructed. 

Since the high school is above capacity with the number of students, five additional classroom spaces will be created without adding to the building. Reconfiguring the gymnasium space to feature two regulation size courts and moving the fitness center from the lower level to the girls locker room off the gym will yield space on the vacated lower level. Crisi noted that this space is some 1500 square feet, and will be converted into two classrooms. Three additional classroom spaces will be gained in the Administration building on Elm Street when the pool in that building is covered over and converted to three classroom spaces with moveable walls allowing for flexible configuration of the area. 

Rendering of revamped vestibule and entrance to high school. On the right is how it looks now.

The new layout in the gym will see two full size courts by turning the main court and moving bleachers to one side, keeping the same seating capacity, A new dividing wall in the middle will allow practice and games for younger teams to happen simultaneously. 

In order for the referendum to pass, there needs to be a majority positive vote. Voting takes place at the high school from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. If the referendum passes construction would begin in May of 2025 and conclude around November of 2026 according to district spokesperson Laura Belfiore. 

About the Contributor
Regina Clarkin, Editor and Publisher
When the Peekskill Herald weekly newspaper ceased publishing in August 2000 it was the first time in the history of the city that there wasn’t a local newspaper.  The award-winning weekly was often referred to as the ‘glue’ of the community. Founded on January 9, 1986 by Regina Clarkin, Kathy Daley and Rich Zahradnik with a $7,000 credit card line, the paper filled the void created when the daily Evening Star was sold to Gannett and moved out of town. Founding publisher Regina Clarkin continued to live in the Peekskill Cortlandt area and turned her attention to other life endeavors.  Through the ensuing 19 years, Clarkin was frequently stopped in town and asked when she would start up the Herald again. In January 2019, Clarkin decided it was less labor intensive to deliver a weekly blog than a print newspaper so she began posting one story a week about life in Peekskill. After a successful crowd funding campaign in 2020, the Herald was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in July of 2021. Peekskill Herald is a digital relative of the former print edition, featuring many of the favorite aspects of the beloved Peekskill Herald such as old pictures, personality profiles and well written stories about newsworthy events. Regina Clarkin is the editor and publisher of the site. Photo by Joe Squillante