NEW ROCHELLE, NY — The city school district is halfway through the second of four phases of construction related to a $106.5 million capital improvement plan approved by residents in May 2016.
Much of the completed work and projects underway are exterior repairs, including roof replacement, masonry work, and improving entrances to schools.
A 2015 building conditions survey of the district’s 10 schools — required by the state every five years — found nine buildings were unsatisfactory and one poor. The work associated with the voter-approved bond, which is expected to be completed in 2020, addresses the issues in that report, among other updates and additions.
The Journal News/lohud.com recently toured a few schools with Assistant Superintendent for Business Jeff White, Tom Ritzenthaler, the district’s architecture consultant from CSArch Architecture, and Carl Thurnau, the district’s facilities manager. Here are some takeaways:
Masonry points to history
About $5.2 million in masonry work has wrapped up or is still under construction, a process that involves replacing the mortar between bricks, also known as pointing.
Pointing, White said, helps keep incliment weather out of buildings.
“They repoint (buildings) so all the water and wind doesn’t get through,” White said. “We’re trying to keep the elements out because once they get into a building they create all kinds of havoc.”
Mortar replacement at Isaac E. Young Middle School, Barnard Elementary School and Webster Elementary School was completed earlier this year and in 2016. Additional pointing work is still happening at Jefferson Elementary School and New Rochelle High School; those are expected to wrap up this summer.
Good pointing work also requires careful attention to detail for historic buildings like Jefferson Elementary School, an Art Deco-style building, and the Jacobethan Revival look of Isaac Young, Ritzenthaler said.
“That mortar is historically accurate, it’s done by a formula so that it won’t chemically react to any of the mortar that’s left in place,” Ritzenthaler said pointing to Isaac Young. “The color is (also) part of it. … We actually take it and we have a lab actually produce a formula so it will match exactly.”
Roofing a top priority
Roof replacements for four schools and related work was a $14.9 million portion of the bond that will be wrapping up by the end of summer.
Barnard and Webster’s roof projects are complete, with work still ongoing at the high school and Isaac Young.
The high school’s roof work is taking longer because the project included getting rid of old, unused tennis courts — a project that required ripping up 5-9 inches of concrete from the roof, Ritzenthaler said.
“We’ve always talked about setting that roof up for a solar array to serve that building,” Ritzenthaler said about the area where the courts were. Adding solar to the high school is not part of this bond’s work, but could be a project down the line.
A new tennis court will be added by the four existing courts on the north side of the high school campus.
A new (accidental) gym
While roof replacement work was going on this summer at Isaac Young, a heavy rain storm caused severe leaking into the middle school’s gymnasium — enough so that it called for a brand new floor.
“(The contractor) had torn off too much roof before the rain came, and as a result it leaked to the floor,” Thurnau said. “This floor had just been sanded, it was perfectly new and prepped two days before the rain. And this is how we knew the floor was in perfect condition because after the rain it was cupped and warped.”
After cutting test patches around the gym, they found moisture and active mold growth that required a full replacement.
Similar to the insurance procedure after a car crash, the district’s insurance company will first pay out the claim for the floor damage and replacement, Thurnau said. Then they will go after the contractor’s insurance to cover those costs.
Projects around campus
Beautification upgrades are underway at front entrances to Isaac Young and New Rochelle High School.
New brickwork and benches still wrapped in plastic are on display. The flat surface walkway is a temporary blacktop while work continues on the west end of the entryway.
Connected to the entrance is a new retaining wall that replaces an old fence. The concrete wall, which cost $1.5 million, lines the campus from the west side of the school’s entrance around McKenna field.
Work that will continue in the spring includes two new turf fields to replace grass fields at the high school. Ritzenthaler said the bidding process just started for the turf upgrades and work will begin this summer.
In addition to the masonry restoration that greets Isaac Young visitors, a new walkway display features large “I-E-Y” letters configured in a rhombus shape. Other updated features include new stairwells, sidewalks and parking lots were repaved.
New looks inside
While most of the interior projects are reserved for later phases in bond work, a few were finished or are in the process of wrapping up.
At Isaac Young, the nurse’s station was completely renovated and expanded by getting rid of an attendance office next door. This opened up the space for several exam rooms, a private nurse’s office, bathrooms and a triage area.
Space was also reconfigured in the middle school’s locker rooms to create two new team rooms in both the boys locker room and the girls. They also added a separate locker room for football. New lighting and floors were added while the district waits for benches and lockers to arrive.
Interior work at the high school included renovating eight bathrooms, ceiling replacement in classrooms and adding new ventilators for better air quality.