Third graders participate in the ceremonial ground breaking for the North Colonie Central School District's capital project (Jim Franco/Spotlight News)
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COLONIE — The $106 million sweeping capital project at the North Colonie Central School District is officially underway.
Third graders from the district’s elementary schools came to the ground breaking ceremony in front of Shaker Junior High School on Wednesday, June 6. If all goes according to plan, they will be the first class to attend the new sixth grade at what will be re-named Shaker Middle School.
The four existing halls, and the new one being constructed to accommodate sixth grade, will be re-named and named after the five highest peaks in the Adirondacks – Marcy, Algonquin, Haystack, Skylight and Whiteface. Currently, the junior high school houses education for grades seven and eight.
“To the third graders, when completed this will be an exciting building,” said Superintendent Joseph Corr. “It will offer you many opportunities to learn, grow explore and develop your thinking skills and at the end of your three years here you will be prepared for your next adventure in your life – Shaker High school.”
Major goals of phase I includes $36.3 million to build the new halls at Shaker Junior High School and $13 million on site work and new athletic fields. If all goes according to plan, the football team will play on a turf field this fall.
Areas of work during Phase II will add classrooms and new space at Blue Creek, Boght Hills and Southgate elementary schools.
Eighty percent of the project has been awarded, Corr said, and so far, according to the accepted bids, the project is 4 percent under budget.
Bette and Cring are the general contractors for Phase I and Peter Luizzi & Brothers will do the site work. Bunkoff General Contractors is the general contractor for Phase II.
“When we re-open this school in 2020 as Shaker Middle School we are going to change all the hall names just for you,” said Deputy Superintendent Kathleen Skeals while speaking to the third graders. “We decided you are going to work hard and soar to new heights and set great goals and you are going to conquer things you never thought you could conquer so we have decided that we will name the five halls after the five highest peaks in the Adirondacks because there are great heights to which you can soar.”
Design work for Phases III and IV – work on Forts Ferry Road, Latham Ridge and Loudonville elementary schools as well as Shaker High School – began in January and plans are slated to get submitted to the state Education Department for approval by September.
In all, some $18.2 million is slated to go towards elementary school renovations and $10.7 million on the high school.
There is a host of other work including building “new and flexible learning spaces” to allow “hands-on, project-based learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, or STEAM.
There is also some $4 million earmarked for security throughout all the schools in the district.
The project is full steam ahead now, but it was years in the making. In December, 2016 voters soundly rejected a $196 million renovation project that would have included most of what is happening now as well as more extensive work at the high school.
The district came back and presented two smaller projects to the Board of Education – one for $147.9 million and the one voters approved in May, 2017 which is currently underway.
“Last May our voters continued striving to the excellence that their predecessors had so ably accomplished,” Corr said after going through the history of North Colonie Central School District which began in 1950s with the construction of four elementary schools. “We are now taking the promise of great-grandparents, grandparents, parents and community to our current generation and expanding on that to improve opportunities and options for the future.”
Also in attendance at the ceremony were Colonie Supervisor Paula Mahan and County Executive Dan McCoy.
Click on a photo below to view a slideshow of the rest.