The Rochester City School District has a demonstrated, twenty-year commitment to providing regular maintenance to its schools. This commitment, however, has been hampered by limits in borrowing and capacity to take on more debt service. While the buildings have been maintained, they are in need of updates to bring the learning environment into the 21st century and provide students with facilities that are comparable to neighboring suburban districts.
The RCSD occupies fifty school buildings (37 Elementary and 13 secondary). Nearly half are more than 75 years old. Given the number and overall age of the buildings in the inventory, there is a constant demand for building repair and upgrading. The RCSD does not have any buildings that have dangerous conditions; however, given the nature and use of the buildings it still must maintain a constant emphasis on long-term building maintenance.
In addition to maintenance it is also important that the instructional demands of the District’s school programs are met. These demands include maintaining low class size, providing Pre-K classrooms, creating labs for computers and other technologies, expanding Special Education rooms, and providing space for school-based health centers and Student and Family Support Centers. All of these measures help to improve the overall delivery of a quality instructional program and a quality learning environment.
The Rochester Schools Modernization Program (the “RSMP”) was created by New York State Legislation in 2007 in order to provide the City of Rochester (the “City”) and the Rochester City School District (the “RCSD”) with increased flexibility to meet the needs of its school children by providing alternative financing mechanisms for multi-phase, multi-year projects, collectively known as the RSMP.Phase I authorized $325 million with $239 million in estimated “hard” construction expenses and $86 million in design, management, financing, and other “soft” incidental program expenses. Phase II authorized $435 million with $297 million in estimated “hard” construction expenses and $137 million in design, management, technology implementation, financing, and other “soft” incidental program expenses. With Phases III and IV the Rochester Schools Modernization Program is expected to span two decades, total approximately $1.3 billion, and be the largest public works project in Rochester’s history.
The Legislation also created the Rochester Joint Schools Construction Board (the “RJSCB”) and designated the RJSCB as agent for the City and the District to undertake the RSMP projects on their behalf. The City’s Finance Director is currently the Treasurer of the RJSCB.
The RJSCB Chair meets with District’s Senior Leadership team, including the Superintendent, on a monthly basis. In addition, the District has appointed their Director of Operations as a member of the RJSCB.
The powers granted to the RJSCB enable a more efficient approach to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the District’s educational facilities. The Legislation was sponsored by members of Rochester’s local delegation and approved unanimously in both houses of the New York State Legislature.In 2010 the RJSCB hired a Program Manager, Gilbane Building Company (“Gilbane”) along with their partner Savin Engineers P.C. (“Savin”), to implement Phase 1 of the RSMP. The first task of the Gilbane/Savin team was to establish a Master Plan for the project using the criteria set forth by the District.
Beginning in the summer of 2010, Gilbane/Savin, and SWBR Architects, created the Master Plan for the RSMP. The Master Plan identified twelve school projects and a technology project (“District Wide Technology”) to be included in Phase 1 of the RSMP. The Master Plan was subsequently approved by the Board of Education and the State Education Department in 2011.
The Master Plan represents conceptual ideas on how the District’s overall strategy can be implemented. The specific project designs are accomplished by those individual architects hired for each project. The Master Plan provides the District with flexibility to meet changing needs. This was evidenced by the District’s decision during Phase 1 to add full building air conditioning to five projects, add the renovation of the Franklin Auditorium, and add a synthetic turf field at East High School. In order to accomplish these additional scope items, funding was transferred from one of the original projects listed in the Master Plan, the Jefferson High School Project.
Also in 2011, the RJSCB officially selected the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency (”COMIDA”) as the source to provide the Bond funds necessary to carry out the project. The Bonds will be paid by State Aid reimbursements up to a certain percentage, the balance of which is the local share.
In 2012, a Project Labor Agreement (“PLA”) was negotiated with the Rochester Building and Construction Trades Council for use during the RSMP. The stipulations of the PLA provide economic savings to the project and support the RJSCB’s goal to ensure a diverse workforce for the project.
Construction began on schedule in the summer of 2012. Enrico Fermi School 17, Helen Barrett Montgomery School 50, Charlotte High School and Franklin High School were the first projects to break ground in July 2012 followed by The World of Inquiry School 58 in October 2012.
The second group of projects broke ground in 2013 including: Henry Hudson School 28, John Williams School 5, East High School, and Edison Technology Campus.
As of May 2016, Phase 1 is now in the final stages of completion. The final two projects are under construction and on schedule. James P.B. Duffy School 12 will be completed this summer and the students will return home for the start of the 2016-2017 academic year. James Monroe High School will transition from its Phase 1 project directly into a Phase 2 project which is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2017.
Overall, the Phase 1 program has been a tremendous success on many levels. All of the individual project scopes have been completed within the $325 million stipulated in the Legislation and within the local share amount authorized by the Board of Education. The RJSCB has been responsive to the District’s requests for changes throughout the program which included several major decisions such as: the addition of full building air conditioning to five of the buildings in Phase 1, the renovation of the 1,800 seat Auditorium at Franklin High School including air conditioning, and the installation of the District’s first artificial turf football field located at East High School. All of the Phase 1 projects were coordinated with surrounding City improvement efforts, neighborhood group concerns, and recommendations from school administration, staff, and parent groups, resulting in 21st century teaching/learning environments for the students and overall improvement to the surrounding community.
In addition, the RJSCB has been successful in meeting its diversity goals for both business utilization and workforce participation having attained over $83 million in minority, women, small and disadvantaged business contracts, which make up over 29% of the overall construction dollars, and achieving over 550,000 hours worked by minority and women workforce which comprises over 30% of the total hours worked for the entire program.In December 2014, the Governor of the State of New York signed the Legislation for Phase 2 of the RSMP. Phase 2 authorizes up to 26 projects, including 25 buildings plus a District Wide Technology project, with a total value of $435 million. Following a nation-wide RFP selection process, in December of 2015 the RJSCB hired the firm Savin Engineers P.C. (“Savin”) as the Program Manager for Phase 2 of the RSMP. Savin, an MBE firm, will now take the lead role on the project after having been a part of the Program Management team in Phase 1 working under the Gilbane Building Company (“Gilbane”). Gilbane will work as a partner under Savin for Phase 2.