Queensbury UFSD gathers ideas for elementary school renovation during community forum

Queensbury Elementary Principal Jessica Rossetti pointed to a row of wooden cubbies lining the wall of a kindergarten classroom.  

The wooden boxes were installed in 1967, the same year the school was built.

“And nobody’s touched them since,” said Rossetti, who led members of the Queensbury community on a tour of the elementary school during a community forum held Wednesday, Nov. 16.Principal standing in a classroom

About 45 people toured the elementary building and learned that cubbies are a necessary evil and that not every student needs a desk. 

Queensbury UFSD is proposing a $39 million capital project, with a majority of that money allocated to renovating instructional spaces at the elementary school. The middle school windows will be replaced on the backside of the building and throughout the sixth-grade wing, and some money will go to finishing up projects at the high school. 

“Queensbury’s building aid ratio is about 74% in the current period, and the way we structure our debt, it reduces our interest costs,” said Scott Whittemore, assistant superintendent for business. 

People sitting at a table

Every five years, the state requires school districts to assess the needs of their buildings in terms of infrastructure. 

“The elementary school has some significant needs that need to be addressed,” Whittemore said. 

District administrators visited schools in New England that boast flexible seating, natural light, multi-use learning corridors, quiet spaces, energy efficient solar panels, project-based learning areas, wide corridors with open spaces for collaboration, and modern classroom furniture that allows for movement and flexibility. 

Girl speaking into a microphone

Working in groups, those who attended the community forum wrote down their ideas for the future of education at Queensbury Elementary School, including its outdoor spaces. 

“I really think we need some type of indoor play area for kids because our playground closed this morning with the snow, and it won’t open again probably until April,” Rossetti said to her tour group. “So you think about those long winter months. Our teachers are awesome about getting them outside in the snow, but it’d be nice to offer some indoor play area that’s safe for them to climb, move.”

Long-time elementary teacher Stacy Conway noted that the classrooms need to be modified to keep up with changing technology and curriculum, and the cafeteria could use some tweaking.

“We really need to figure out how to maximize 300 kids in the cafeteria,” Conway said. “Our current situation doesn’t work.”

Middle school teacher Jacqueline Cross, who used to teach kindergarten, said teachers need more storage in their classrooms. She lauded the idea of flexible seating. 

Principal standing in a school classroom

“I think our vision as learners is allowing children to have choice in their learning and their best learning style,” Cross said.

The public will vote on the $39 million project on Dec. 12, 2023. 

“We’re very proud to be able to say this is a budget neutral project, and this forum was a vital step in our planning process,” said Kyle Gannon, superintendent of schools. “It’s important that we listen to our community.”