The talk of renovations and improved athletic facilities has been around for many years. The current fields flood constantly, and the track has many holes and uneven sections. Also, the talk of artificial turf fields is a common topic. The district has now taken action to begin capital improvements across all three schools.
A year ago, these ideas came into discussions among parents, teachers, staff, the Board of Education, and the superintendent. Separate committees were formed to discuss the various options and their costs. They bounced ideas off of each other with the students’ best interest in mind. These committees were composed of parents of students in the school system with children involved in the athletic programs. After these projects were discussed over many meetings, the different committees formulated initial plans that were presented to the Board of Education, as well as the community at a board meeting in May 2012 and voted on. One of the committees is the Fields Committee, which put together plans regarding the construction projects involving the athletic facilities. At the board meeting last May, the bond including the construction projects for all of the Briarcliff Schools was voted on by the taxpayers.
The projects involving the middle and high school populations include three distinct projects: the Fields Project, the Science and Chemistry Lab Project, and the Performing Arts Project. With the construction currently scheduled to begin this coming June, teachers, as well as coaches, have begun to discuss what these renovations mean for the students. They believe that sporting events and practice locations may have to be modified as a result of the construction. With 90% of students participating in interscholastic athletics and 11 teams using the fields in the fall, the fields are heavily used and are constantly torn up by cleats. The fields plan includes the installation of the game day turf inside the track, as well as the installation of an artificial turf baseball outfield that can be used as an extra practice field for a variety of other sports. Non-turf changes include the restructuring of the field hockey and soccer fields to allow them to be full-sized and distinctly separated and the construction of a new tennis court (where one of the basketball courts exists now). Also included in the plans is the addition of a steeplechase pit and two new long jump pits (also to be used for triple jump). Areas for shot-put, discus, and pole vault will also be included. New events for Briarcliff Track and Field athletes will be discus and steeplechase.
Some of the science and chemistry labs in the high school will be renovated. The dance studio is in the plans to be moved and redone to increase its size. The band room floor will be reconstructed, as well as leveled, and space will be added for instrumental storage. The weight and exercise room at the high school is going to be expanded and renovated. The new plan also features roof repairs, wall repair, and door replacement.
Although the groundbreaking moves are scheduled to occur in June, the construction will be staged to prevent every facility from being shut down, and the hope is for parts of the project to be completed by the fall of 2013.
In the middle school, an Exploring Music Lab will be created, computer labs will be upgraded, the cafeteria acoustics will be upgraded, stairs will be added at the exit of the cafeteria, and the gymnasium will have air conditioning installed.
In the elementary school, the K-2 playground was rebuilt, and other changes will include renovated bathroom appliances, renovations of 11 classrooms, electrical work on K-2 wing, classroom ceiling fans installed, door replacements, roof gutters, and drainage. Also, windows will be replaces and fields will be restored.
Although total proposed bond is up to $10.525 million, the improved fields, classrooms, and technology is believed to greatly enhance the educational experience. Incidentally, the energy savings are expected to save money.