澳门二四六天天彩

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Preliminary Plan Review


Smart Schools Bond Act – Preliminary Review
澳门二四六天天彩 Union Free School District
Conversion of the 澳门二四六天天彩 Armory Site into a Universal Pre-K Facility
March 2016

 

When a public school district is proposing to create additional educational space, whether in the form of a new school building or an addition to an existing building, a preliminary submission to The Office of Facilities Planning is required. Included with this preliminary submission must be a narrative detailing enrollment projections and the anticipated impact of those projections, an explanation of how programmatic changes will influence the need for new space, and a discussion of how Special Education program needs will impact the proposed project.

The 澳门二四六天天彩 Union Free School District, located in suburban Long Island, is comprised of seven educational facilities of varying age and design totaling an estimated 960,000 square feet. Recently, the district has maintained the following configuration of buildings; grades K-2 are in three primary schools, grades 3-5 are in two intermediate schools, grades 6-8 are in the 澳门二四六天天彩 Middle School, and grades 9-12 are in the 澳门二四六天天彩 High School.

During the 1970-1971 school year, 澳门二四六天天彩 UFSD reached an all-time high in student enrollment with 7,477 students, necessitating split scheduling in the High School. Similar to most other Long Island school districts, a decline in enrollment was subsequently experienced until 1990 when a low of 4,450 students were enrolled. Since this time, enrollment has slowly risen to the current year’s enrollment of 5,885 students.

Research demonstrates that high-quality pre-k increases a child’s chances of succeeding in school and in life. Pre-k programs benefit not only individual students, but school districts and communities. Children who attend high-quality programs are less likely to be held back a grade, less likely to need special education, and more likely to graduate from high school. They also have higher earnings as adults and are less likely to become dependent on welfare or involved with law enforcement.

Carefully developed early learning expectations linked to K-12 standards contribute to a more cohesive, unified approach to young children’s education. Children who participate in such programs show better academic readiness skills, as well as improved school attendance and performance and reduced grade retention. Participants in the program show greater gains in early reading, writing and math skills than their similarly-aged peers without such pre-k experience.

Our Universal Pre-K program is currently housed in four separate locations, two of which are District owned, with services being provided by two different outside contractors. The District employs a 0.5 FTE administrator to oversee both the needs of the program and the service providers. Prior to September of 2014, enrollment fluctuated from a low of the approximately 200 students that were supported by the state grant, to a high of almost 300 students in years where the Board of Education had the funding to supplement the grant and was able to both accept all applicants and provide transportation.

Each year, the Board of Education authorizes a professional demographer to complete a study of projected enrollments and facility utilization. Concurrently, the Board commissions an architectural/engineering firm to evaluate all district facilities. This study focuses on the need to repair or replace various systems within each facility, as well as address the special needs that were being identified within the demographic study.

As required by section 155.1 of the Commissioner’s Regulations, the 澳门二四六天天彩 Union Free School District has developed a long range plan for its facilities based upon enrollment projections, programmatic needs, and anticipated capital improvement requirements. It is apparent that the current square footage (combining both District facilities and the facilities of outside contractors) does not provide enough space to meet the needs of all resident 4-year olds who choose to take advantage of our Universal Pre-K program.

In 1997, the New York State Legislature enacted Universal Pre-Kindergarten for four-year olds as part of a bill to improve education. Funding is administered by the State Education Department (SED) in the form of grants to local school districts. Funding levels for individual districts are based on the foundation formula for state education aid. This formula takes into account, among other things, student needs, wealth of the district, and regional cost variations. Until September of 2014, Pre-k funding provided support for half-day programs (2 ½) hours, five days per week, during the school year.

More than 15 years after New York’s political and education leaders promised to work toward providing access to pre-kindergarten classes to every 4 year old across the state, more than a third of New York’s school districts have no such program. The early promise of universal pre-kindergarten programs was undermined by state budget problems, especially after 9/11, and local districts were never required to offer them.

The funding included in the 2014-15 State Budget was the first installment as part of the State's commitment to invest $1.5 billion over five years to build a Statewide Universal Full-Day Pre-Kindergarten program. This program represents the largest expansion of Full-Day Pre-Kindergarten in New York State history. The 澳门二四六天天彩 Union Free School District received the largest single allocation of any non-city school district in the State.

New York State’s Pre-K program is unique in its requirement that school districts must subcontract a minimum of 10% of funds to community-based organizations (CBO’s). This provision encourages collaboration, however, it also poses challenges. Coordination is one example. 澳门二四六天天彩 is currently utilizing four separate facilities to service ~ 300 students with two different subcontractors.

In early 2012, legislation co-sponsored by Senator Owen Johnson and Assemblyman Phil Ramos was approved allowing the 4+ acres, with the existing facilities, of the abandoned 澳门二四六天天彩 Armory to be conveyed to the 澳门二四六天天彩 School District for one dollar ($1.00), pending public approval. The property may be used to house programs that address the educational needs of the community. Accordingly, the Board of Education has been entertaining myriad suggestions and is in the process of developing a multi-year plan to rehabilitate the site. Ultimately, the decision was made to transform the entire site into a Pre-K center capable of providing full-day UPK services to all of 澳门二四六天天彩’s 4-year olds.

The opportunity to acquire a facility at no cost to the taxpayer that can be easily retrofitted to establish a center capable of providing pre-k services to all resident 4-year olds is unprecedented. The Board of Education is working to deliver value to our community while maintaining 澳门二四六天天彩’s investment in our school district as the heart of our community.

Based upon the projected enrollment and the available space, 24 core classrooms are needed to accommodate instructional sections with a maximum class size of 18 students. According to the project architect, the proposed expansion would meet the programmatic needs of the projected enrollment.

Increases in educational needs must be addressed beyond increases in enrollment. While more than 400 children attend kindergarten in our primary schools, less than half of those children are able to attend a publically funded prekindergarten program. Even more concerning is the small number of the underserved students (ESL, students with special needs and low SES) who are currently attending prekindergarten. The District will implement a process where these underserved students are provided with priority placement. With financial investments in research, data and program evaluation, the District will be able to identify trends in how these students are progressing and use those insights to target interventions and supports.

In addition to the programmatic needs of the Universal Pre-K program, the proposed project includes miscellaneous interior and exterior renovations for facility repair and upgrades. As the buildings were erected in the 1950’s, various improvements are necessary. The proposed project includes the following:

Interior reconstruction and space reconfiguration
Exterior building envelope improvements
Roof reconstruction and/or replacement
Replacement of doors and windows
Replacement of floors and ceilings Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
Electrical work Plumbing
Americans w/Disabilities Act improvements
Security, including clock, fire alarm, public address and lighting system
Site work, including drainage, curbing and sidewalk, driveway and parking
Equipment and Furnishings

Space availability, with good administration and management of programs, contributes to an effective school. The excellence of the 澳门二四六天天彩 educational program must be supported through informed decision making in preparation for meeting future needs that considers the use of facilities and space availability. Accordingly, 澳门二四六天天彩 voters approved the acquisition of the abandoned 澳门二四六天天彩 Armory in November of 2012 and now seek to utilize 澳门二四六天天彩’s Smart Schools Bond Act allocation to transform the site/facilities into a Pre-K center capable of providing full-day UPK instruction for all resident 4-year olds.