Port Chester High School might be receiving a new addition above the parking lot on Tamarack Road and a new gym adjacent to the current one. 
Courtesy of Joe Fuller
Port Chester High School might be receiving a new addition above the parking lot on Tamarack Road and a new gym adjacent to the current one. Courtesy of Joe Fuller

The first step to creating a new bond referendum was completed on Tuesday, Nov. 22 when the Port Chester Bond Advisory Committee (BAC) voted to send their recommendation to the Board of Education. Out of the 23 people present, 20 voted for the recommendation. The roll call vote can be found in the sidebar.

Now the BAC might be turning their work over to the Board of Education, but that doesn’t mean their job is done. Many of the members vowed to advocate for their proposed construction plan and a few of them claimed they could bring 100 people or more to the polls if the Board of Education approved it.

“The pressure is surely going to rest on the board’s shoulders. For me myself, I would like to renegotiate the whole deal,” Tom Ceruzzi said.

Tom Corbia shared similar feelings. Both men are concerned about the cost of the project, which has more than doubled since the last school bond went to the polls in December 2015 and failed. That bond only addressed overcrowding at the high school while this plan also tackles space needs at the elementary schools.

“It’s important we help our students,” Corbia said. “One of the things that hit me was the fact that you never just ask for the minimum and I think [the board] overreached on exactly what they need.”

“We came in and almost doubled the last bond and it bothers me what people are going to think,” he continued.

“We have given them exactly what they wanted,” he concluded. “I think they overreached a little bit and hoped we would cut it back.”

He advocated again for Richard Hyman’s plan, which was concept 15 and only added 10-12 classrooms on the back of the wings on the Tamarack Road side. Corbia said he wanted a new gym in the high school but stands by Hyman’s plan because he is worried the cost of the gym would be too great. Hyman predicted that his concept would cover about 80 percent of the Board of Education’s charge to the BAC and would cut the cost of the work at the high school in half.

Secretary Stephen Simmons thought it would be presumptuous to try and predict whether or not the bond will pass, especially just looking at the potential price tag.

“We were tasked with putting down a recommendation to meet the needs, not 80 percent of the needs,” Simmons said in reference to Hyman’s proposed plan. “You don’t know the voters won’t pass it until there’s something up there to pass. This isn’t something for fun or something frivolous, this is something that needs to happen.”

The BAC’s recommendation

As it stands now, the bond would cost an estimated $78.66 million with about $29.76-30.85 million in state aid, depending on how much can be aidable at John F. Kennedy Magnet School. These numbers are only estimates given by School Construction Consultants (SCC) and Assistant Superintendent for Business Maura McAward. The costs and the aidable amount are subject to change.

This plan is not set in stone until the Board of Education puts it up for a vote.

Port Chester High School would receive a floating addition built above the parking lot on Tamarack Road. It would give the building better student foot traffic by creating a loop on the second floor. In this two-story concept, there would be about 17-18 new rooms, including classrooms, science labs, a band room, a choir room and a computer lab. A competition sized gym would be added adjacent to the old gym on College Avenue and the current gym would be renovated into new locker rooms that would be on the same floor as the new gymnasium, a weight room and a multi-purpose room. This project is estimated to cost around $49.9 million.

John F. Kennedy Magnet School would get an addition to the lower building. Eight new classrooms would be built inside the maintenance space behind the school and on the second story above it. The maintenance area would be relocated below a new gymnasium, which would be on the same side as the current gym. This idea is projected to cost $15.37 million.

King Street School would get a new gym so the cafeteria would be a separate space, two new classrooms and a total of 64 parking spaces. In case future growth is needed, the new classrooms would be built in such a way that there would be room for a new two-story hall with about 26 classrooms. This plan would cost around $10.5 million.

During a special meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 8, the Board of Ed was impressed with the BAC’s and Fuller and D’Angelo P.C, Architects and Planners’ forward thinking, especially if the Early Learning Center were to close in a few years.

Park Avenue School would get four new classrooms and an updated media center for about $2.6 million.

Thomas A. Edison School would not get new classrooms due to the lack of space on the site. The kids would get a new turf field, which would cost around $291,000.

The Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Port Chester Middle School to discuss the BAC’s recommendation.

Committee members

The Port Chester Bond Advisory Committee is made up of 29 people. They are Rosemarie Barone, Joan Carriero, Thomas Ceruzzi, Thomas Corbia, Susan-Anne Cosgrove, Kenneth Force, George Ford, Ana Isabel Gonzalez, Stephen Greto, Gregory Guarino, Jody Helmle, Richard Hyman, Maureen Josephson, Joseph Lodato, Laura Luzzi, Heather Mateus, Kevin McFadden, Keith Morlino, Chrissie Onofrio, Denise Quinn, Patricia Rinello, Eric Rios, Elizabeth Rotfeld, Lou Russo, Jennifer Saunders, Debra Scocchera, Stephen Simmons, Patricia Sutton and Albert Wesley.

Gonzalez is the chairperson, Simmons is the secretary and Morlino is the alternate chair.