NISKAYUNA — Construction is underway at Iroquois Middle School as the school district enters another phase of a $79 million capital project.
The project includes a 20-classroom addition at Iroquois that will allow for team-based classroom areas. The areas will comprise four core classrooms, a science classroom and a resource room.
In February 2021, district residents approved a pair of capital projects that encompass $79 million in districtwide infrastructure improvements.
Included in the improvements are extensive refurbishments to classrooms at both district middle schools as well as additions at Iroquois and Van Antwerp middle schools.
The district will also be renovating 86,000 square feet of existing classrooms at Iroquois, with work at the school expected to be completed by the summer of 2026.
On Feb. 6, the district held a public information session to update residents on the Iroquois project. The foundation for the classroom addition is currently being laid. It is expected to be completed first by the fall of 2024 before the renovation of the existing classrooms. The district plans to hold classes in the new space while the rest of the building is refurbished.
Construction on the Iroquois Middle School addition began in late January with excavation work for the foundation.
Due to rising construction costs, the Niskayuna Board of Education allocated approximately $35 million for the Iroquois Middle School portion of the project in October, necessitating that the planned work at Van Antwerp Middle School will now be funded by two separate capital projects — the original 2021 referendum approved by voters and an additional referendum currently planned for February 2024.
A classroom addition at Van Antwerp will be funded with money from the 2021 referendum, with additional classroom renovations set to be on the ballot for a proposed 2024 capital project vote.
Superintendent Carl Mummenthey said the district will be moving forward with the planned work at Van Antwerp Middle School.
“The district has always had a long-range facilities plan that called for votes in 2024 and 2027 and so we will continue on that trajectory,” he said on Monday. “We’ll be doing updated needs assessments on each of our campuses so that we can really target the right investments for modernizing our campuses.”
Mummenthey said the district does not have a projected price tag yet for the planned 2024 referendum.
Following construction at both middle schools, the district will move to a grade-level configuration that will see grades five and six housed at Van Antwerp and grades seven and eight at Iroquois.
The new grade configuration is not slated to take place until construction and renovations are completed at both middle schools. Both middle schools currently house students in grades six through eight.
“We’re very excited that when the work is complete at Iroquois and Van Antwerp that we’ll have a redesigned middle school experience,” Mummenthey said. “Students will attend a grades five-six campus at Van Antwerp and a seven-eight campus at Iroquois. We really think that is going to transform middle school education here at Niskayuna.”
The scope of work also includes upgrades to the Iroquois-Rosendale Elementary School site, including traffic flow and road improvements to connect the two schools.
The Van Antwerp project is nearing the completion of the design phase; the district unveiled floor plans for the project during the public information session.
The capital project includes health and safety upgrades, with the district identifying and removing potentially hazardous materials including lead and asbestos during the construction process. According to the district, the abatement will take place only while school is out of session.
The work at Iroquois Middle School represents the second phase of the district’s capital project, with Niskayuna High School previously receiving a new roof and turf athletic fields.
Mummenthey said the capital project approved in 2021 is currently ahead of track.
“This mild winter weather has really helped us,” he said on Monday. “They’re ahead right now at Iroquois, further ahead than where we thought they were going to be earlier this summer. The work is progressing well and we’re grateful for the community’s investment in our schools.”