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Peekskill Looks To Uriah Hill As Student Population Grows

The Peekskill City School District may reopen Uriah Hill Elementary School to serve prekindergarten students next fall.
The Peekskill City School District may reopen Uriah Hill Elementary School to serve prekindergarten students next fall. Photo Credit: Art Cusano

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. — Facing an influx of students and already crowded schools, the Peekskill City School District may once again turn to the shuttered Uriah Hill Elementary School.

"We really believe that we have to reopen Uriah Hill. I don't see any way around it," Superintendent of Schools James Willis told the Board of Education trustees at Tuesday's meeting.

The district is anticipating another large increase in prekindergartners, although the actual size of the class has not been determined. The district has also seen an increase in kindergartners, adding three additional classes at Woodside Elementary School this fall.

Tuesday's news of the closing of Assumption School added additional concerns. District officials anticipate that at least some of the students at the nearby Catholic grade school will enroll in the city's schools.

Opening Uriah Hill by next fall would be no small task, said Greg Sullivan, assistant superintendent  for business and administrative services.

Asbestos abatement must be carried out on the floor tiles of several classrooms. Nearly 60 broken windows must be replaced. Roof repairs must be carried out to fix leaks, and plumbing issues must also be addressed. The district would also need state approval to reopen the school.

Cost estimates are still being completed, Sullivan said.

Another options for the prekindergarten students would be to rent trailers for $350,000 per class, plus about $100,000 in additional expenses.

The district would need six classrooms for prekindergarten, which would leave plenty of room to lease. Northern Westchester BOCES is negotiating to lease some of the school for its programs, however, no plans have been finalized.

Some trustees were concerned about the tight timeframe to complete renovations at Uriah Hill before the 2013-14 school year.

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