After six years and at least one failed attempt to move, the New Paltz school district has left its location on Henry W. Dubois Road for good. Staffers and equipment have made the move to the new location at Lenape Elementary School, although not everything is unpacked.
Schools Superintendent Maria Rice seemed please with the relocation. “You can tell we’re not done yet – putting everything up,” Rice said as she gave a tour of the new digs.
Not many walls have come down or gone up to facilitate the new office use. Old furniture has been retained. Many of the new offices in Lenape still have telltale signs of the classrooms they once were. Some rooms have sinks where kids used to wash up after messy projects. Others have distinctly classroom-sized floor plans. New carpeting and new paint were the most many rooms got.
“It’s just a classroom with paint,” the superintendent said, referring to her office. “We did as little as possible.”
New Paltz’s district office isn’t evicting grade schoolers from their classrooms. The space now occupied by the office had once been used by Ulster BOCES for courses. School officials in New Paltz wanted to relocate the office because they were paying rent at 1 Henry W. Dubois Road. Superintendent Rice, the assistant superintendents and their staff had moved into that rented office back in early 2008. Previously, they’d used that old blue house in front of the New Paltz Middle School as an office.
Over the course of the lease, the public schools paid their landlord about $600,000 for the space, according to Assistant Superintendent Richard Linden. Getting out of that costly lease has been a priority. Back in 2009 and 2010, district officials thought they had solved the problem with the $50 million renovation to the middle school, which would have brought the district office into that building. After the voters overwhelming rejected that plan in February 2010, the school district went back to the drawing board.
Another reason for the unpacked nature of the office in Lenape is that the district office could potentially move again. Right now, the school board is considering five options to upgrade or potentially close two school buildings. In two of the options, the district office is slotted to move to the high school on South Putt Corners. If the board opts for either of those two plans, Rice noted, they’ll have to pack again.
Renovations to Lenape cost about $600,000. Roughly half of that went to upgrade the heating and air-conditioning equipment to make for better air quality. “We went as inexpensively as possible,” Rice said. “The key is that we did as little as possible. But the expense went into HVAC, which needs to be done through the whole building.”
Both Lenape and the high school host summer classes and events year-round. Rice said she’d eventually see air quality and HVAC improvements to those two buildings.
Parents interested in the new offices can stop by Lenape at 1 Eugene L. Brown Drive in New Paltz to check it out. Signs will direct visitors away from the school’s main entrance toward the west side of the building, where the offices are. District office staff and adult visitors will use that separate entryway, and they’ll be sequestered from children by locked doors.
As of press time, some of those security door locks still needed to be installed. In the interim, the district has a check-in entry desk for people coming into the district office.