ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Gates Chili Central school district has returned for the first day back to school with all in-person, full-capacity classes. Students at Neil Armstrong and Walt Disney elementary schools had their first day in newly renovated buildings.
Upgrades include new classrooms, nurses offices, and improved security. Dr. Mitchell Ball, Assistant Superintendent of Business, said one of the ways the district is increasing security is through new entryways.
“We want to create a secure main entry where you’re really channeled through a much tighter security process.”
Additional security measures include heated sidewalks so entryways remain ice-free on frigid days, and a new flow of traffic at Neil Armstrong to separate parent drop-off/pick-up from school bus traffic.
But, the elementary upgrades are only part of the $68 million dollar district project. At Gates Chili High School, there is a new performing arts center underway set to open in early 2022.
“It will allow us to have a myriad of choral, band and theatrical productions. It houses over 1,000 spectators and it was really a collaboration by a whole number of local tradespersons and craftspersons who came onto the site—even given the challenges of COVID-19,” said Dr. Ball.
Despite challenges the pandemic presented, Dr. Ball said all projects have been on-budget and on-time.
“We’re really happy that we were able to get this work done. Especially given shortages in labor in the trades, and also material shortages due to manufacturing and shipping issues related to COVID-19.
Although the new structures around the student body are nice, Dr. Ball said having students back in the classroom is the best part of the start of the school year.
“We’re really excited to welcome kids back. I think that’s the most important message…getting students and staff back in the buildings, doing the great work that we love to do and seeing their smiling faces everyday.”