New Rochelle Schools Rush To Finish Construction In Time For First Day

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Most local students head back to school next week, and one Westchester County district is rushing to get major construction projects done.

As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, the work will not all be done when classes begin.

Construction crews have been rushing to complete major projects at New Rochelle High School, including a new main entrance and parking lots. But some students and parents are worried the beginning of the new school year will be disrupted.

“I am concerned about the first day of school the first week,” said New Rochelle mother Rita Puchalski. “It’s probably going to be a little chaotic.”

“I don’t think they’re going to get it done, but hopefully it’ll be done soon after,” said New Rochelle High School senior Angela Hill.

The district is in the middle of a four-year, $106 million program to upgrade all its schools.

“It’s a colossal effort,” said New Rochelle Assistant Supt. Jeffrey White.

School leaders gave CBS2 a tour inside, where major renovations are under way too. They include new ceilings in classrooms and refinished floor in eight gymnasiums districtwide.

While the kitchen at the school is still definitely a work in progress, officials said they will be ready to feed 3,200 students on the first day of school.

Crews have been working virtually around the clock to make it happen.

“We have cafeteria staff and our second shift custodial staff teaming up to clean this kitchen top to bottom, and it will absolutely be ready for the opening of school,” said New Rochelle Schools Facilities Director Carl Thurneau.

There are new playgrounds at elementary schools, a new entry plaza at Isaac Young Middle School, and the high school is getting its historic slate roof repaired. Officials stress safety is their top priority next week.

“We will be open. We will be safe. We have all our systems in place,” Thurneau said.

A construction report shows some projects have been postponed until next summer, including synthetic turf fields, the administrative parking lot, gas line replacement, and a new outdoor track.

But Puchalski, the mother of a student, said she does not mind the delays.

“You have to look on the bright side and what the future is going to hold, and the improvements that are going to be made will only be a good thing,” Puchalski said.

The district says some of the new playgrounds will not be complete until the end of September, but they are trying to keep parents informed.

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