From left, Assemblyman Al Stirpe, Superintendent Dr. Mark Potter, Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter, Principal Michael Baroody and Board of Education President Craig Dailey cut the ribbon at the newly unveiled Chestnut Hill Middle School. (Photo by Meghan Piper)
Students across the state went back to school last week, but for the kids at Chestnut Hill Middle School, the return was especially sweet.
The building finally reopened to students and staff after being closed for two years for massive renovations.
“It is very exciting,” said CHM Principal Michael Baroody. “We are looking forward to all the new spaces and enhanced learning opportunities for all of our students.”
During construction, CHM moved its students and staff next door to Chestnut Hill Elementary, while CHE’s population moved over to the former Wetzel Road Elementary, which closed at the end of the 2009-10 school year. Now, Baroody said the staff will be able to make themselves at home.
“While we were in the CHE building, there was quite a bit of sharing of spaces,” he said. “Now each teacher will be back in his or her own classroom — classrooms that are designed for their content area.”
The CHM renovation was part of Liverpool’s Phase Two construction project, approved by voters in March of 2014. The project included extensive renovations at CHM ($16.6 million), CHE ($12.1 million), district-wide security enhancements ($2.6 million) and replacement of the Liverpool High School roof ($6.7 million). The $37.2 million project is estimated to cost taxpayers approximately $4.95 more per month per $100,000 of assessed income.
Prior to the renovation, the Chestnut complex had not seen significant updates since their construction in 1956.
While all of the major work is done, Baroody said a few small details will likely be ironed out after the first day of school.
“In a project as large as this, once the staff and students have re-entered the building and ‘lived’ in the building, I am sure some adjustments will need to be made to best meet the needs of the students and staff,” he said.
Baroody said the staff is thrilled with the new facility so far.
“When I walk around with folks they are in awe of all the changes and how beautiful the spaces are,” he said. “The comments I hear over and over again are how bright and spacious the building feels… One comment I heard was, ‘How could students not enjoy coming to school everyday in this brand new, beautiful building?’ I could not agree more.”
Chestnut Hill Elementary, meanwhile, broke ground on the construction of their renovated facility in June.
The Liverpool Central School District continues its effort to go paperless. Parents received their children’s bus information via SchoolMessenger instead of a mailed letter this year, and the district will continue to send out report card information for all students via SchoolTool, something it started last year. However, since some parents had trouble with the parent portal on the site and others just wanted to continue receiving the paper copy, elementary parents will still also receive hard copies of their children’s progress reports.
North Syracuse is also endeavoring to save some trees going into the 2017-18 school year. All report cards will be posted on a new parent website portal; parents and guardians will need to provide their child’s school with an email address to access the portal through a totally revamped nscsd.org.
It’s through that portal, called SchoolTool (also used by Liverpool), that student at Cicero-North Syracuse High School will also access their grades and schedules. High school parents should send their email addresses to Caron Lambert at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (315) 218-4003 to set up an account.
If you’re interested in following along with happenings in the district, follow @NSyracuseCSD on Twitter. The high school is also on Twitter at @NSyracuseCNS; Roxboro Road Middle School will also be setting up both Twitter and Facebook pages. C-NS will also be sending out a video newsletter highlighting school news.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.