New Paltz Middle School students returned to a brand new wing in their building when they began the school year on Wednesday, Sept. 5.
Construction on the facility began near the start of the 2017-2018 school year. The 38,000 square foot addition runs parallel to the sixth grade wing, adjacent to South Manheim Boulevard. The building includes a much larger library, new rooms for the band and chorus plus a technology shop and regular classrooms. The addition is part of a $52.9 million initiative, called the Capital Project, which will renovate all four New Paltz Central School District buildings.
“It will provide more adequate rooms for the band and choir who didn’t have much space previously,” said Assistant Superintendent Richard Linden. “We had a building from the 1930s that needed renovations, I think it’s great.”
Together, the new and old wings create a courtyard facing Lincoln Place, where buses will collect and drop off students each day. Students walk under a second-story walkway that connects the two wings towards the entrance. The building is adorned with fresh bricks and plate glass windows, some of which are equipped with angled shades to block the sun.
The school has already moved on to their next phase of construction in other areas of the school. Currently, the new wing is being used to accommodate the sixth grade students while their old wing is under renovation. Linden noted that most of the new renovations focus on the building’s infrastructure including HVAC, electric and plumbing. He projects that the sixth grade wing will be ready around the halfway point of the school year.
As students begin to utilize the new library, the old library will be converted into classrooms for the special education department. The only specialty room that is currently being used in the new wing is the band room, which resides in the sixth grade wing.
Additionally, the entrance near La Bella Pizzeria has been locked and gated to direct parents towards the Main Street lot for drop-off. This decision renders the crosswalk nearby less effective and it may take months for another to be installed. After speaking with state officials, Lindon speculates the crosswalk will be placed further down Manheim, near Lincoln Pl.
Over the next year, the middle school will continue renovations with plans to refurbish the seventh and eighth grade afterwards. Lindon hopes to fully complete construction at the school by the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. Deputy Mayor KT Tobin praised the development at the middle school, which she has helped campaign for over the past years.
“10 years ago I ran the ‘Save the Middle School’ campaign, and we successfully convinced the school district to keep the school in the central core of our community,” Tobin said. “I am thrilled that now a decade later the district has shown its commitment to keep our only walkable school where it is, and it is finally getting much needed improvements, all which will benefit students and the community for many decades to come.”