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Franklin Square school district’s renovations move forward

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The Franklin Square School District has made headway on its renovation projects, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Management Theresa Hennessy announced at a Board of Education meeting on Jan. 8.

Voters in the district approved its use of reserves to fund the projects over the past four years. They include upgrading the cafeterias at the John Street and Polk Street schools, installing air conditioning, renovating the restrooms and making various repairs.

According to Hennessy, the district worked with a food service consultant over the summer to update the “cafeteria aesthetics” at the John Street and Polk Street schools. Similar work at the Washington Street School had been completed last year, she said, but could not be completed at the other two schools until the district installed an in-wall table system last spring.

“In addition to looking great,” Hennessy explained, “the cafeteria makeovers also ensure that we are in compliance with national school funding planning requirements.”

District officials have also completed its first-phase of repairs — which include roof replacements, masonry work, parking lot repairs at the John Street School and flooring replacement at the Washington Street School — and are about 95 percent complete with its phase two work, which includes installing air conditioning at all three schools.

They are now in the process of renovating the district’s bathrooms. The restrooms were prioritized based on need, Hennessy said, with the ones in the worst conditions being addressed first. “As a mother of two toddler boys,” Hennessy joked, “it didn’t surprise me that the boys’ rooms were pretty much the first ones we had the renovate.”

So, over the holiday break, the tiles have been replaced in those bathrooms, the grout was stained and resealed, and exhaust fans and radiator covers were installed. Further bathroom repairs are expected to occur over the summer.

District officials are also currently working to determine what other renovations could made in phase five. “We will be meeting with our architect as well as construction consultants to determine what we could actually afford to move forward with,” she explained, adding that district officials are considering installing air conditioning at Washington Street School’s gymnasium; renovating John Street’s playground, parking lot and bus lot; and renovating the school libraries, which would partially be funded by a grant that Sen. Anna Kaplan helped procure.

Hennessy concluded her presentation last week by explaining how the district would use the funds it received from the Smart Schools Bond Act to replace all of the doors in the building. New Yorkers voted to approve the bond in 2014 to improve educational technology and security infrastructure. As a result, the Franklin Square School District was awarded more than $700,000, which the administrations plans to use to replace all the doors leading to instructional spaces and offices — as well as the vestibule doors at the John Street and Polk Street schools — with more durable doors that limit sight into the rooms and could be locked from the inside.

The State Education Department has approved Franklin Square’s plans, Hennesy noted, and the doors have already been ordered. Once they are built, which could take eight to 10 weeks, the district would begin installing them after school hours and during breaks.

Hennessy also announced that district officials have met with local representatives and law enforcement to ensure that its security protocols are up-to-date, and district officials are researching new technology to supplement the district’s front-desk procedures. Safety, she said, is of the “utmost importance” to the administration.