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Community Learns About QHS Capital Project Proposal, Vote on Jan. 12
Dec. 15, 2015
Last night, more than 40 people joined the Queensbury Board of Education for a presentation on a tax neutral $39.7 million capital project proposal that calls for major renovations at Queensbury High School. The proposed renovations would allow the high school to implement an educational program envisioned by the community during a two-year legacy planning process. Voters will head to the polls to decide on the proposal on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, from 10 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. in the Queensbury Elementary School Gymnasium, 431 Aviation Rd.
"The focus of the legacy project falls into three areas. One is safety, that’s a major concern today. The other two are energy efficiency and education program enhancements," Superintendent of Schools Dr. Douglas W. Huntley told the crowd. Click here to view his presentation (PDF).
As Huntley described, the 2016 capital project would transform the rigid, mid-century design of the 52-year-old high school from one of restrictive, subject-area silos into one with:
- Three interdisciplinary instructional communities:
- Humanities - English language arts, social studies, foreign language (pictured below on first floor map in purple)
- STEM - science, technology, engineering, math (green)
- Fine and performing arts (teal)
- Enhanced school safety:
- Centralize community-use areas (e.g., for sporting events, concerts, plays, meetings) within the main school corridor to help prevent unauthorized access to classroom areas in the instructional communities.
- Provide a more secure school entrance and more clear sight lines in student areas for improved oversight.
- Greater energy efficiency by replacing original, energy inefficient windows and walls.
- Extended learning areas that are more flexible than the traditional classroom and that provide more opportunities for collaboration, socialization and enrichment (example pictured below).
- Centralized support services (e.g., HS Counseling Center, psychological/social services, nurse’s office) in the main school corridor (brown), which will increase accessibility for students and parents, and provide additional space to meet a growing demand. For that to happen, the old wood gym must be relocated from the center of the school to the back of the school (light blue).
- More flexible and accessible community spaces:
- Relocate the media center/library (light purple) and large-group instruction room (light teal) to the main corridor and the front of the building.
- Open up the cafeteria to the Blue Gym lobby (light green).
- Renovate aging seats and the stage in the auditorium (teal).
"The Board of Education recognizes this is really the hub of the community. A lot of activity takes place here," Huntley shared. "We want high levels of safety without compromising community use of facilities."
The concept design for the capital project (PDF) was informed by an educational specifications report for Queensbury High School, which came out of a two-year, multi-step legacy planning process. That process included community education summits in 2013 and 2015 with parents, students, community and industry leaders, school board members, students, administrators, district employees, retirees, and non-parent residents. The district also organized discussions among small focus groups of alumni, students, administrators, faculty and support staff; created a legacy planning team at the high school; and conducted online surveys.
"When the [high school] was built, it was built for a different instructional purpose: students were in rows, the teacher lectured, the students listened. It's based on an early 1960s model of education," said Huntley. He contrasted that with the proposed capital project, where "there’s no central point of instruction. Learning takes place everywhere... That’s how you integrate social skills into the academic setting."
If voters authorize the proposed $39,735,000 investment in the high school, the capital project will have no additional local tax impact. State building aid would cover $26,550,000 of the cost and return to the local community some of the taxes it pays to the state. The remaining balance of $13,185,000 is the local share of the cost, but the project would be tax neutral due to the retirement of district debt.
If the capital project is approved by voters in January 2016, construction is expected to begin in spring 2018 and end by fall 2019. Students who are currently in grades 5-8 would be among the first to experience the renovated high school in the 2019-20 school year.
Residents can expect to receive a newsletter about the proposed capital project in early January. Click here to learn more.
The first floor plan for Queensbury High School in the 2016 capital project proposal.