After three years of delay, the state legislature has finally approved the third phase of the $ 475 million Rochester schools modernization program.
The massive renovation program will have lasted 20 years and cost about $ 1.2 billion by the time the last nail is driven. It was approved by the Legislative Assembly in 2007, and the first two phases are almost complete.
The third phase, however, stopped in Albany in 2018 and 2019 before being neglected during the 2020 pandemic. It was recently passed by both the Assembly and the Senate and awaits the signature of Governor Andrew Cuomo. .
Nine schools will be affected in phase three, said Mike Schmidt, the city’s school district operations manager.
Two, East and Monroe High Schools, will benefit from relatively minor improvements after having featured prominently in previous phases. Monroe will get a new pool and new windows, while East will get upgrades to the fine arts section and athletics complex.
Edison Tech, Franklin, Wilson, and Northeast / Northwest High Schools will receive a complete overhaul, as will Elementary Schools 3, 9 and 19.
“As we reopen after COVID, this new program will create thousands of well-paying jobs in the Greater Rochester area, with a special focus on minority and women-owned businesses,” the State Senator said. Jeremy Cooney in a statement.
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The sprawling modernization program has always been challenged to keep pace with the district’s ever-changing academic plans. School 3, for example, was a K-8 school when it was first included in Phase Three, but is now closed, with the stated plan to reopen it as a high school.
Tax and university supervisor Shelley Jallow has been heavily involved in the modernization process, Schmidt said, as the plan ultimately needs to be in line with her financial vision for the district.
This vision includes the closure of several RCSD schools over the next few years. The buildings chosen for phase three, however, should be ax safe, Schmidt said, either because they are attached to recreation centers or because they are long-standing secondary buildings.
“We have strategically chosen these buildings because they are schools that in this community we are never going to close,” he said.
Tender and design work has not yet started, so work will not start until autumn 2022 at the earliest, Schmidt said. Students from affected schools will be moved to transitional premises in other buildings if necessary.
District and city leaders are also hoping for a fourth and final phase of the project once the third phase is completed. By then, most of the district’s school buildings will have been renovated.
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