Schenectady County

Construction on elementary schools under way

Springtime means nice weather, outdoor activities and for the city school district, the start of con

Springtime means nice weather, outdoor activities and for the city school district, the start of construction projects.

This season three elementary schools — Paige, Martin Luther King and the new William C. Keane, which is at the former St. Luke’s building — will get attention.

Work has already begun on a nearly $2.7 million, six-classroom addition at Paige Elementary School. Superintendent Eric Ely said the project will allow the sixth-graders to stay in the building instead of going to Central Park Middle School. The district has a goal of having all of its sixth-graders in elementary school settings.

Crews broke ground on the project about a month ago, but most of the work will be done over summer.

“We wanted to get as much prep work done and get everything started without disrupting current classes,” he said.

The addition will displace a playground at the corner of Elliott Avenue and Consaul Road. A new playground will be constructed behind the school.

Another major project is the rehabilitation of the former St. Luke’s School on Albany Street into the district’s new Thomas C. Keane Elementary School. Ely said the building needs to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act by installing an elevator and adding handicap-accessible restrooms. The district also has to install rescue windows and bring the fire alarm system up to code.

“Those are just basic necessities you have to do in order to occupy a building as a school,” he said.

Last October, voters approved spending up to $1.6 million to lease the former Catholic school from the Albany Diocese for five years and pay renovation costs. State aid is covering all but $48,000 of the project and those costs are in the district’s budget.

Both the Paige and Keane projects are scheduled to be completed in time for the opening of school.

The district’s other major project is the start of a $6 million renovation of Martin Luther King school. The project is to add seventh and eighth grades to the current kindergarten-through-sixth facility. Ely said they need to add four new classrooms, a home economics room, a couple science laboratories and a new cafeteria.

“Right now, they’re having lunch in the gym,” he said.

Ely said this project would not be ready until the fall of 2009 because it requires extensive renovation, including adding locker rooms, handicap-accessible restrooms and reconfiguring existing space, which can only be done when school is out of session.

Work has not started on that project because the school is still waiting for state approval.

Funding for the Paige and King school projects was part of a $48 million proposition the voters approved in 2006.

In addition, Ely said the district is continuing to work on finding space for students from the International Charter School of Schenectady who are coming back to the district.

Ely told the Board of Education last month that the district is in negotiations to lease two facilities, which he did not name because he said it would affect the process. The plan calls for using one of these to house roughly 140 charter school students from the Van Corlaer and Hamilton attendance zones. Those in the Pleasant Valley zone will be assigned either to one of these sites or the Keane school.

Ely said he hoped the school attorney would complete the lease agreement in the next few weeks.

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