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Ossining School Officials Give Tours Prior to Vote

OSSINING, N.Y. – Ceiling panels are falling down, lockers are falling apart and space is cramped at Ossining’s AMD middle school.

School officials recently gave a public tour of the middle school to plead a case for what they call “critical work” that could be fixed with the help of a $41.6 million capital improvements bond. The bond goes up for a public vote at the Ossining High School on March 6. Roughly $19 million of the proposal includes work at the middle school, which officials say hasn’t been renovated or upgraded since the building was constructed more than 40 years ago.

“We are in desperate, desperate need of change,” said AMD middle school principal Regina Cellio. “It is obvious and it is necessary that we need more space. With rising enrollment in our elementary and our outdated classrooms, we know we have a desperate need here and it’s only going to get worse the longer we wait.”

Cellio and Arris Contracting President Paul Tozzi took residents on a guided tour of the middle school Feb. 8. A dozen residents and school officials walked through the school cafeteria, music rooms, library, locker rooms, offices and hallways to get a first-hand look at what could be changed if the public votes for the bond.

Proposed plans call for roughly $8 million to repair five of six boiler systems in the district, new second-floor classrooms at Ossining High School valued at $6.5 million, expansion of the cafeteria at Anne M. Dorner Middle School (AMD), $2.8 million, consolidation of the middle school locker rooms, $2.5 million, restructuring of the middle school library, $1.8 million, updating middle school science classrooms, $2 million and roof replacement at the middle school, $1 million. The figures were provided by the Ossining School Board.

Tozzi said the biggest concern with the middle school is tight space and the renovations are necessary to address that concern.

“Trying to help that many kids in limited periods becomes very challenging in this existing space they have to work with here,” Tozzi said while walking through what officials call the cafe-torium – the space that serves as the school’s cafeteria and auditorium. “What’s being proposed is a better space to allow for kids to be served quicker and allow them to eat comfortably during the time they have.”

Tozzi explained that the school has “a lot of unusual” design work that is creating concerns, noting the 4-inch gap under each doorway.

“The undercut on the doors is very different than what you’d normally see on a building,” Tozzi said. “It was someone’s idea to get air movement in the school with a huge undercut. That’s not how you get ventilation and it doesn’t work. The ventilation is still a huge issue.”

District Superintendent of Schools Phyllis Glassman agreed with Celio and Tozzi about the need for the change.

“These really are critical issues that we’re looking to fix,” Glassman said Wednesday. “The last time we proposed this bond, people voted it down and told us we had too much and needed to narrow it down to those barebones. This is as bare as you can get.”

The previous $69 million bond proposal was defeated in April 2011 by roughly 500 votes. If approved, the new proposal should not cause any increase in the tax levy from current levels because of the potential new borrowing taking effect at the same time older loans are paid off, according to documents from the school board.

Board President Bill Kress said videos of the tour would be added in the coming weeks and he invited residents to either look online or to visit the schools.

“If they saw it, they would realize the need and realize it’s something that’s been put off too many times,” Kress said. “This (bond vote) is an opportunity to the community to make an investment in infrastructure without raising their taxes.”

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