A primary focus of the Feb. 9 capital project proposal is investing in significant renovations and repairs at both Iroquois and Van Antwerp middle schools and getting them ready for the district’s future grade-level configuration: five K-4 elementary schools, a grade 5-6 lower middle school at Van Antwerp and a grade 7-8 upper middle school at Iroquois.
In the video above, Niskayuna teachers talk about the promise the capital project holds for middle school students and the need to update facilities.
“I think the new construction, especially in science and technology, will allow us to really delve deeply into some of the next generation standards,” said middle school science teacher Chris Bianchi. “To do that we need new facilities, we need updated facilities, we need facilities that are more reflective of what our students and teachers are capable of in Niskayuna.”
In relation to the middle schools, Proposition #1 calls for:
- Extensive renovations throughout Iroquois and Van Antwerp, which will result in modernized classrooms, space for students to collaborate and work in small groups, and improvements in classroom furniture, storage, lighting and flooring.
- Dedicated music rehearsal space in both schools so that middle school students would no longer need to go to Niskayuna High School for music ensembles prior to the start of the day.
- Health and safety improvements identified in the district’s most recent building condition survey. Deteriorating bathrooms and aging heating, electrical and mechanical systems will be replaced or repaired.
- Redesigned and reconstructed bus and parent drop-off loops at both schools.
If Proposition #2 is approved, it will result in:
- $4 million for additional renovations at the middle schools.
- A kickball and grass playfield at Iroquois.
- The reconstruction of the staff parking lot on Dexter Street Side of Van Antwerp with 46 spaces.
The new grade-level configuration is being timed with the capital project work. If approved, officials estimate the change could take effect between 2024 and 2026 depending upon the construction schedule.
Niskayuna educators see the new configuration as a unified grade 5-8 middle school program on two campuses. The benefits teachers have identified with this configuration include:
- An equitable experience for all Niskayuna students.
- More opportunities for teacher and student collaboration.
- The ability to enhance the 5th grade experience with world language and other middle school offerings.
- The potential for 8th grade students to take accelerated courses and get started on high school requirements.
- The community building benefits by bringing all Niskayuna students together as a class in 5th grade.
Moving 5th grade to the middle school level, adding classrooms at Iroquois and converting the District Office at Van Antwerp into classroom space will enable the district to accommodate the projected enrollment increase in the coming years.