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SCHENECTADY — Schenectady city schools need work. About $260 million worth, in fact. 

Results of a building-condition survey, unveiled during a Wednesday school board meeting, identified an estimated $259.3 million in needed repairs and upgrades across all 18 school buildings that make up the district. The survey, which included staff interviews and building walkthroughs, was completed over the course of several months by SEI Design Group of Albany.

“This is not saying there are $259 million worth of needs that have to happen tomorrow,” said Richard Little, a project manager with SEI Design. “This is saying these are things that we can project.”

Now that the survey is complete, the district will work with SEI Design to identify issues that must be remedied immediately and develop a plan to tackle other upgrades through a future capital project.

Needs for each building vary, but many share commonalities, including needed upgrades to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, electrical upgrade and interior and exterior work that would bring buildings into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Schenectady High School has the greatest needs, with SEI Design identifying and estimated $81 million in work, including new lockers, renovated locker rooms and replacing the building’s original windows, which alone could cost between $12 million and $20 million, Little said.

District Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. said the price to upgrade the building is high, but noted the district has not completed a capital project at the high school in over a decade.

Currently, the district is in the midst of a multi-phase capital project that voters approved back in 2017. The district has already completed the first of four phases of the project, which included $70 million in upgrades to 11 elementary and middle schools. Phase 2, which includes $64.5 million in upgrades to elementary schools, is currently in the construction phase.

Phases 3 and 4, which include work at the high school, are currently under development.

The district is also working to upgrade its 11 playgrounds using $5 million set aside in coronavirus-relief funds received under the American Rescue Plan Act last year.

Elsewhere, the building-condition survey identified $22.6 million in upgrades at the Steinmetz Career & Leadership Academy and $16.7 million at Washington Irving Adult & Continuing Education Center.

An additional $91.4 million in needs were identified across the district’s 11 elementary schools, and $19.6 million were identified at its three middle schools.

Fulton School, which is not used by the district, requires an estimated $7.9 million in upgrades.

The district, Little said, is made up of aging facilities that are in various states of repair.

“There’s been a lot of good things done, but there’s a lot of areas that haven’t been touched since they were originally done,” Little said. “There are some disparities with buildings that have gotten a lot more attention and some buildings that haven’t.”

The survey also identified how the district uses its classroom space, which Soler said will be taken into account as it works to address future upgrades. He added a timeline for when the district will present a capital project remains unclear.

Once the district finishes accessing the survey, a committee will be formed to determine how the district should proceed.

Any future work, Soler said, would take into consideration an initiative the district is in the process of implementing, including a secondary redesign that will create learning pathways for all students and will roll out this fall. The district is also launching a community schools program that will turn schools into community hubs through partnerships with local organizations.

“We want to be real deliberate moving forward,” Soler said.

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.  

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