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You are here: Home The Goods District Building Priorities: Put Greenacres on Top of the List
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District Building Priorities: Put Greenacres on Top of the List

priorities.jpgIf you've been following the discussion about the future of Greenacres School, the long wait for a recommendation from the administration and the architects is in sight. At the next Board of Education meeting on May 22, the architects will give a two and half hour presentation on the state of the district's facilities and their plan for future capitol projects.

A year ago on May 16, 2017, at one of her final meetings as a school board member, during a discussion about the future of Greenacres School, retiring board member Suzanne Seiden said, "I think we need to discuss the principles behind our decision. For me, Greenacres is the priority. The decision should be tax neutral. There is a fairness issue. Other schools have gotten a lot. We must check historical context within which to view this." At another meeting toward the end of the year, Seiden reiterated. "I would hate to see this moment pass. Greenacres has waited to get its turn."

I had Seiden's words in mind on May 8, 2017 when I listened to Assistant Superintendent Stuart Mattey and Superintendent Thomas Hagerman discuss their work with architects BBS on the next round of district capital improvements, to be voted on by Scarsdale taxpayers in December, 2017.

Both Mattey and Hagerman continuously emphasized overall district needs and the consideration of Greenacres within the context of a long list of Scarsdale schools facilities needs over the next decades. They said the architects had analyzed and compared the space in the five elementary schools, doing a space utilization analysis. They talked about assembling a district wide building committee to consider a list of district priorities. For instance, Dr. Hagerman said, "Ventilation? We heard that was a need at Greenacres .. well it's needed in several district buildings."

Perhaps since both Mattey and Hagerman are relatively new on the job, they may not be aware that facilities needs at Greenacres have been put aside for decades. Mattey's predecessor, Linda Purvis, repeatedly promised that the administration was waiting for the expiration of $60 million in district debt in 2016 to post a large bond to fund a major overhaul of the school. While Greenacres waited, $14 million was raised in a 2005 bond offering to replace a portion of Quaker Ridge school and renovations and additions were made to all the other schools. While Greenacres leaked and kids were crammed into classrooms that were too small and overheated, plans were made for maker spaces, flexible learning environments, libraries and playgrounds at virtually all the other schools. Greeenacres residents were asked to wait.

Finally in 2016 after building committees and community groups met, architects KG&D presented several rounds of plans to renovate or build a new school. Either way, this would be a major undertaking, utilizing much of the funds available for the next bond offering – assuming it had to be tax neutral.GreenacresAerialVies

Unfortunately there was discord about what should be built, and Superintendent Hagerman declared a stop to all discussion, fired the architects and ultimately retained a new team in February.

We're told that this new team has again undertaken a district wide master plan of priorities – which sounds very similar to what architect's KG&D were retained to do upon their arrival in Scarsdale in 2013. At that time, after full consideration of their district wide feasibility study, improvements were planned at the high school, middle school, Heathcote, Edgewood and Quaker Ridge which were all deemed to be priorities at the time. Major renovations funded by an $18 million bond passed in 2014 are now underway.

About Greenacres, a June 2014 report from the District Facilities Steering Committee says, "After touring Greenacres and meeting with that building-level committee, the architects advised the committee that the issues presented by the facility were significant and complex. Addressing them appropriately would require funds far in excess of the amount contemplated for this bond referendum. Further, the building could not be expanded on its current site because its footprint already exceeded the state's guidelines."

In 2014 Greenacres, residents were asked to support that bond and again asked to wait for anything to be done at their school. They were promised they would be the top priority for the next bond offering in 2016.

So here we are, days away from a May 22 meeting where we'll again be presented with a list of district priorities. I am hopeful that all this talk of a district-wide spatial analysis and a space utilization study are not the prelude for another defense of why classrooms in Greenacres are not smaller than the smallest rooms at other schools, or why the air quality at Greenacres – which we are told "is as good as you can expect for a building of that age," is acceptable.

Why should Greenacres facilities be compared to the least adequate facilities at others schools? I can't bear to hear any more excuses about leaks in the foundation and the roof, tight classrooms and inadequate spaces for lunch, recreation, performances and technology.

Please. We have waited long enough. Give Greenacres the school it deserves. We've all paid in to the system for many years and now it's time to return some of those tax dollars to a very patient and neglected neighborhood school. Rest assured that whatever is built now will need to last us another 100 years. So don't make Greenacres just as good as the most antiquated spaces in the district. Think ahead and build a state of the art school that will set the standard for all other district facilities for the next century. The time has come.

This is the opinion of site founder Joanne Wallenstein.

Comments   

0 #9 Greenacres resident 2017-05-23 11:38
Quoting Save greenacres:
And the recommendation is... no new building.

Quoting Save greenacres:
And the recommendation is... no new building.

And keeping the kids in the middle of the construction for 2 years.
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+2 #8 Save greenacres 2017-05-22 20:39
And the recommendation is... no new building.
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+3 #7 Dont forget the AC 2017-05-21 18:50
Don't forget to budget for air conditioning in all the schools so our special snowflakes don't melt on the 2 days a year it gets a little warm in the classrooms. Some people seem to think that we have a magical bag of unlimited funds in this town.
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+4 #6 Greenacres Resident 2017-05-18 15:29
A couple of thoughts...

1) I almost feel like the Greenacres Schools infrastructure needs are the very thing, paradoxically enough, that are forstalling said remediation in lieu of possible building replacement, for fear that such spending will go wasted if said repairs are to be ultimately ripped down should a new building take its place.

2) Editor: I am all for honest and accurate reporting even if it devalues the elementary school neighborhood I (and you) live in as part of this Village. That said, other people in the Village, worse, prospective residents. read this and paint fictional pictures of fear of kids rained upon and who can't breath within the schools confines. My Ivy bound (not to brag--to make a point) child got the wonderful foundations of her education in this so called (infrastructure not educational) dump --which even today it is anything but.

Fair reporting suggests you disclose both your Greenacres residency, and your personal opinions (both of which you are entirely allowed to have) when reporting, so that it doesn't become editorial.
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+4 #5 Nick 2017-05-17 08:04
The best advice I can tell someone who isn't happy about the school board or school taxes in Scarsdale is go to school board meetings, write a letter/email with your concerns, or run for school board.
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+10 #4 Melania T. 2017-05-16 15:15
Good thing we have so many options when voting for school board members. :sigh:
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+3 #3 H. Schwartz 2017-05-16 14:43
How much will a new school cost vs. refurbishing one? How will a bond issue affect the level of Scarsdale's indebtedness? What will a bond add to residents' taxes? How will over assessed residents be affected? Enough with hysteria, and please get some numbers.
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+5 #2 Fairness vs Priorities 2017-05-16 11:27
Sadly, since Suzanne Seiden came off the board the theme of fairness in historical context appears to have come off the table. As part of its due diligence, the Board should ask the Administration to present a history of building improvements dating back from the past 25-30 years. That is important information for the community and the Board to consider as they establish priorities. Fairness to the long-denied Greenacres community should be a significant consideration in the decision-making process.
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0 #1 seems obvious to me 2017-05-16 09:56
Does anyone reading Hagerman's comments think that Greenacres is actually ever getting a new school? I guess we'll know in a few days but the comments suggest that we're about to hear that moving around a few walls and patching the existing HVAC system will be just fine for us...

What can Greenacres residents really do about it?
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