Updated 06/21/2012 10:26 PM
Will the schools be ready in time?
Syracuse students might be out for the summer, but the work is really just beginning in school. The fourth and final project of phase one of the Syracuse district wide reconstruction project is underway. H.W. Smith held a ground breaking for their project Thursday. They will move into swing space in the Levy school as soon as the Institute of Technology staff is out. As our Katie Gibas reports, there's still a lot of work to be done for everything to be ready for students in the fall.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It's been nearly a decade in the making.
"Matt Driscoll, who was the mayor, and Steve Jones, who was the superintendent, and they were announcing this great new thing with the JSCB and we were going to be renovated in the first rotation. That was a long time ago, probably about seven years. And it's now real and it's now a fact and we are moving and ready to go," said Sharon Birnkrant, the H.W. Smith Principal.
H.W. Smith Elementary held a ground breaking ceremony for their renovation Thursday. They will be closed for the next year, with students attending classes at the old Levy school while the building is overhauled.
"We're getting toilets, thank God, after 50 years. And if you hadn't fixed your own bathroom at home for 50 years, you'd know what that's like. We're getting the plugs we need. If you were in a 50 year old house, you'd see that the need for electricity is different now than it was then. We're getting solar power on our roof. We're getting energy efficient windows," said Birkrant.
Now that students are out of the building for summer, things are moving along pretty quickly. Those at Levy need to get everything packed up and moved out so the H.W. Smith staff can move in by Wednesday.
"We have a whole series of moves and we have it all orchestrated and we have trucks coming in. We've been planning this for several months, so it's pretty well coordinated work," said Tom Ferrara, the Syracuse City School District's Director of Facilities.
Matthew Williams, the ITC Principal, added, "It's all about moving a community forward, so if that involves packing and carrying a few boxes, who cares. We're doing this so we can improve the education for our kids in Syracuse."
But if you've driven by the Institute of Technology downtown recently, you may have noticed, there's still a lot to be done before students return in the fall.
"There's probably 60 people working on that site right now on a daily basis, so there is a lot of work, but that project is probably about 75 percent done," said Ferrara.
And there's still work that needs to be done at Levy to transition it from a high school swing space to a K-8 learning environment.
So will everything get done with Levy and ITC in time for school? District officials say the project is on time and even slightly under budget.
Other buildings targeted in this $146 million phase include Dr. Weeks Elementary and Fowler High School. Dr. Weeks is expected to be completed in January. Fowler's final phase will be done by February. And H.W. Smith should be finished by the beginning of the following school year.