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Albany High School renovations move forward

Pool groundbreaking marks the next step in the school's facilities improvements

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 25, 2016) -- The City School District of Albany began renovations Oct. 25 on the pool facility at Albany High School, a highly anticipated next step in the overall plan to expand and renovate the city’s only public high school.

 

“Today’s groundbreaking for our pool building represents another step forward for Albany High School, for our school district and for our entire community,” said Interim Superintendent Kimberly Young Wilkins, Ed.D.

 

Click here to read Dr. Wilkins' full remarks.

 

The pool has been out of service since a large section of the outside wall collapsed during a period of extreme cold in March 2015. Two months later, voters approved a tax-free referendum to fully renovate the pool building.

 

The $4 million pool renovation is part of a $14 million package of repairs and upgrades at 14 district buildings that has no tax impact. Voters approved that referendum in May 2015.

 

Also Tuesday, Dr. Wilkins gave an update on the plan to renovate and rebuild Albany High. Voters approved that $179.9 million project in February. Replacing the school’s failing roof was the first order of business; that work was finished over the summer, ahead of schedule.

 

Dr. Wilkins also noted Albany High’s new athletic field, completed in October 2015, as yet another example of the district’s ability to deliver on its proposed facilities plans. 

 

“Our school district is committed to following through on the promises we make to our community,” she said. “We know that our residents have high expectations that the projects we propose for our students will be done well, done on time and done within budget. That is our track record, and we are looking forward to delivering once again for our students, our families and our community.”

 

Work on the pool building is scheduled to finish in April. Albany High’s boys’ and girls’ swim teams, displaced since the pool closure, will be back home next school year. The school district also will reinstate a learn-to-swim program for second-graders that has been put on hold while the pool is out of service.

 

Tuesday’s update on the major expansion and rebuilding project for Albany High included a report on the outcomes of numerous meetings that architects held over the summer with Albany High faculty and staff. That input led to several updates to the proposed project, all keeping within the $179.9 million budget. Those updates include:

  • Creating five equal-sized smaller-learning communities, or academies, to serve the growing enrollment, expected to increase from about 2,600 today to 3,000 or more

  • Establishing a guidance and student-support suite in each academy, instead of a centralized location for those offices such as exists in Albany High currently

  • Moving the  library, or media center, to the front of the building to make it accessible to the community outside of the regular school day

  • Creating a small theater/performance space that would seat approximately 150

  • Redesigning more efficient space for career and technical programs

  • Adding three special-needs classrooms

  • Adding a third art classroom, a new media art lab and a TV production room

 

You can download a PowerPoint update the architects presented at the Oct. 20 Board of Education meeting.

 

The fully renovated and rebuilt facility will expand the size of the current building by about 50 percent. It will be completed in four phases over six years, with construction expected to begin in the spring of 2018 and wrap up in the summer of 2024. 

 

New construction will begin with a three-story academic building behind the school. The second phase will include an addition in the front of the school, along Washington Avenue, for art, music and foreign language classrooms.

 

In the final two phases, the school’s open courtyard will be enclosed and the current three-story academic building will be fully renovated to create two smaller-learning communities and space for career and technical education programs. Those programs currently are housed three blocks away from Albany High at Abrookin Career and Technical Center.

 

Other planned renovations include replacing the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, replacing the aging brick exterior, fully renovating the auditorium and adding a new 200-seat balcony, and creating new space for physical-education classes, including jogging lanes in the main gym.

 

Once the plan is completed it will be submitted to the State Education Department for review in 2017. The state’s review process will take about a year.

 

The video below shows another look at the groundbreaking celebration on Oct. 25.

 

 

The mission of the City School District of Albany is to educate and prepare all students for college and career, citizenship and life, in partnership with our diverse community. The district serves more than 9,600 students in 17 elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as well as other innovative academic opportunities for students, including four themed academies at Albany High School.

         
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