East Irondequoit Central School District Profile
The East Irondequoit Central School District is located in Monroe County, New York, adjacent to the City of Rochester, one of the five biggest cities in the state. East Irondequoit serves a community of 30,000 residents in the eastern portion of the Town of Irondequoit. Irondequoit is bordered by Irondequoit Bay on the east, Lake Ontario on the north, the Genesee River harbor area with its historic lighthouse and beach facilities to the west, and the City of Rochester to the south. Irondequoit is set against a backdrop of natural beauty, with wooded hills and valleys, acres of nearby parkland and miles of water views.
Residents of Irondequoit enjoy a full spectrum of professional services, shopping, recreational and cultural offerings in the town, in the nearby city and in other areas of Monroe County. Irondequoit is minutes away from downtown Rochester, with easy access to expressways and county and state highways for travel within the region and beyond.
Irondequoit is one of the oldest suburban areas in Monroe County. As a result, East Irondequoit offers a broad mix of home styles. Options range from farmhouses that date to the earliest stages of settlement in the area to many neighborhoods established in the first half of the 1900s, when Irondequoit saw a boom of development as a suburb of Rochester, to modern homes and townhouses constructed in recent decades. Many waterfront and water view homes are available on Lake Ontario and Irondequoit Bay.
East Irondequoit serves approximately 3500 students in six schools, including Helendale Road and Ivan Green Primary Schools for children in kindergarten to second grade; Laurelton-Pardee and Durand-Eastman Intermediate Schools, for students in grades three to five; East Irondequoit Middle School for grades six to eight, and Eastridge High School, that serves grades nine to twelve. The high school includes a special 'school-within-a-school' Ninth Grade Academy. The academy provides special attention and support for students in their first year of high school. The district's buildings and grounds department and maintenance functions are located in a maintenance building on the premises.
The district is committed to excellence in all areas of operations and pursues continuous growth and improvement in instructional programs and student achievement.
A major renovation and reconstruction project, underway from 2009 through 2012, will update and improve the district's instructional, athletic, maintenance and transportation facilities.
The school district is fiscally independent and is governed by a nine member Board of Education, elected annually by majority vote on the third Tuesday in May. The district has property taxing authority as specified in New York State Education and Real Property Tax Laws.
1950s to 1970s
The face of the district has changed many times during more than 50 years of service to students and the community.
The district, which was centralized in 1956-57, experienced a period of rapid growth during the post-war baby boom years of the late 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. Elementary schools included Laurelton, on Helendale Road; Abraham Lincoln, on Norran Drive off Norton Street; and Durand-Eastman, on Point Pleasant Road in Seabreeze. Ridgewood Junior High School, on East Ridge Road, was the district's only secondary school; high school students could choose to attend high school in West Irondequoit or Rochester.
As enrollment swiftly outgrew existing schools, the district built Eastridge High School in 1958, Norwood Middle school in 1968 and Pardee and Whipple Lane/Ivan Green Elementary Schools, in the later 1950s. A new wing was added to Durand-Eastman in 1950s and new wings were added at Eastridge several times during the 1960s.
At its enrollment peak, the district operated five elementary schools for grades K-6, including Abraham Lincoln, Laurelton, Pardee, Whipple Lane/Ivan Green and Durand-Eastman; two middle/junior high schools, Norwood and Ridgewood; and Eastridge High School.
The district then saw a dramatic decline in enrollment, along with the rest of the nation, in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the baby boom ended. During these years of rapid enrollment decline, four schools were closed.
The two oldest schools, Ridgewood and Laurelton, both built in the mid-1920s, were sold in the 1970s. Two buildings were closed and retained for future need, including Abraham Lincoln, built in 1925, and Pardee, built in 1954. The structures were rented to various tenants at times and 'mothballed' during periods when there were no tenants. The district also retained a plot of land on Densmore Road, which had been purchased during the years of fast-paced enrollment increase but in the end was not needed for an additional school structure, because enrollment growth ended.
1980s and 1990s
Norwood Middle School, built in 1968, became the Laurelton-Pardee Elementary School in 1983 with the closings of the Laurelton and Pardee Schools. Students who attended middle/junior high schools moved to Eastridge, which became the Eastridge Junior/Senior High School, serving all students in grades 7-12. Until enrollment began to climb again, the district operated three elementary schools and one secondary school.
In 1985-86, the district reorganized the use of space within the Eastridge structure, to provide a separate junior high school area to serve the specific needs of students in seventh and eighth grade, within an eastern wing of the school. Students continued to share the cafeterias, auditorium, library and other central areas of the school.
Enrollment decline turned into steep enrollment growth during the later 1980s, when birth rates began to rise again as the baby boom generation became parents. Affordable housing, amenities that the community offered and a district focus on improvement in programs, services and student achievement attracted young families to East Irondequoit.
Growth continued swiftly throughout the 1990s into the first years of the 21st century. Enrollment in East Irondequoit grew at one of the fastest rates in Monroe County during this time period, from a low of approximately 2400 in the mid-1980s to more than 3500 as the century ended.
The district's first two steps as enrollment began to grow in the late 1980s were to reopen the former Pardee building as a fourth elementary school and reorganize the three existing K-6 elementary schools, which included Durand-Eastman, Ivan Green and Laurelton-Pardee, into a new K-2/3-6 grade level configuration. Attendance areas were revamped to match enrollments with school capacity. The K-2/3-6 configuration and change in attendance areas allowed the district to equalize class sizes and reduce the number of classrooms needed districtwide by 8 rooms. The K-2/3-6 configuration also provided for better instructional coordination and team teaching than a K-6 pattern. Costs to reopen the former Pardee School, just under a million dollars, were funded as a bond project approved by voters, and the building was renamed Helendale Road to avoid confusion with Laurelton-Pardee.
In the 1990s, voters approved a proposal to sell Abraham Lincoln School and use the proceeds to help begin a capital reserve fund to serve as a savings account for future renovation and construction projects, to help the district limit the use of bonding whenever it was feasible. Under the terms of the proposal, state aid reimbursement and an allotment of funds from the annual district budget also could be added each year.
(The school was sold because estimates showed it would cost as much as $10 million to renovate the deteriorating structure and bring it in compliance with current building codes and instructional needs. In addition to the renovation needed to a structure built in 1920, classrooms did not meet state standards for size and the building's antiquated electrical wiring was insufficient to instructional equipment.)
In the early 1990s, the district also carried out renovation projects at Eastridge and Durand-Eastman, with costs fully offset by new property taxes gained when the Irondequoit Mall was constructed.
As enrollment continued to rise sharply, the district responded by revamping school interiors to make more efficient use of existing space and then by adding classrooms at all existing elementary schools and a new library and 12-classroom science wing at Eastridge. These projects were funded predominantly on a 'pay as you go' basis through the reserve fund.
Community study groups helped plan all these projects. In some cases, such as the Durand-Eastman project, community members were instrumental in proposing the work.
2000 and beyond
By the late 1990s, enrollment had surpassed capacity at all district schools. A new community facility study group convened to do an extensive study of needs and make a recommendation to the board of education on the best way to accommodate student numbers and changes in instructional space requirements.
After almost two years of study, the group recommended that the district build a new middle school for students in grades six to eight to alleviate crowding at district elementary schools and at the Eastridge campus, on the Densmore Road site, and do renovations at the district's five existing schools. The committee also looked at a long list of renovation needs and made the difficult decisions on which of the most urgent items would be included as part of an overall middle school construction/school renovation project. Items not addressed remained on a long-term list of renovation needs.
The community approved the proposal in March, 2000. Planning and construction took place during the next two and half years, and the school opened in September, 2003. Sixth grade students moved to the school from intermediate buildings and seventh and eighth grade students moved from the junior high wing at Eastridge.
The school addresses the unique learning and social needs of middle level students and offers a rich extracurricular program. State-of-the-art technology supports the instructional program.
In keeping with the district's focus on energy conservation, the school was designed with a geo-thermal system for heating and cooling and energy-efficient windows. Not only did this reduce energy costs, the district earned a $250,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA).
After the middle school project was complete, the district immediately turned its attention to the Durand-Eastman Intermediate School, a structure that was built in stages between 1914 and the 1950s. The oldest portions of the school were wood construction, which was deteriorating, as were the exterior masonry areas, and interiors throughout the school were in need of renovations and improvements. Classrooms were undersized. Mechanical systems were failing and parts were no longer available to repair equipment, due to the age of the systems.
A community committee recommended that the oldest portions of the school be reconstructed and new areas renovated. Work was planned carefully to ensure that all costs could be met through the district's Capital Reserve Fund, state aid reimbursement and other revenues, with no added taxes. The project was completed in 2007.
The district next tackled a small project that focused on items that were not included in the middle school construction/school renovation project, including mechanical systems at Eastridge High School and several other schools, using special funds available from the state through a court decision that sought to provide equitable funding for school renovation work in New York City and other districts throughout the state. The project was completed with no added taxes through the special funds, state aid reimbursement on expenditure of those funds and interest income.
The Generational Project
In 2007, the district commissioned a new community study group to review the district's overall renovation needs, beginning where the previous studies and projects left off. Subcommittees were formed to review options for student transportation and provisions for early childhood education in the district. District staff members and architects toured the schools in the spring of 2007, to establish a list of needs as a starting point for the committee's work. The committee reviewed the initial list, toured schools to gain a first-hand look at the items on the list and to identify any additional needs.
The group, after extensive discussion and tours of all schools, recommended a no tax increase renovation/construction project that addressed a wide range of needs at schools, which are all at or beyond 50 years old and have served two generations of East Irondequoit students. The projects will bring facilities back into topnotch shape, to serve current and future generations of East Irondequoit students. Projects will cost a total of $66 million, with no increase in taxes, because the work will be fully funded through the district's Capital Reserve fund, other existing funds, and state aid building aid reimbursement.
The transportation subcommittee recommended that the district begin its own student bus transportation service, due to projected cost savings. East Irondequoit also will provide services to the East Rochester School District. Startup costs for the transportation services will total approximately $6.2 million, which will be fully funded, with no added tax increase, through an existing equipment reserve fund and state aid reimbursement for bus purchases
After a thorough study of all aspects of full-day versus half-day kindergarten programs, including research on student achievement, the early childhood committee recommended that the district begin to offer a full-day program for all kindergarten students. Research shows that students who fall behind in early years are at greater risk to fail in later years. East Irondequoit was one of approximately 70 districts statewide, of more than 700, without full-day kindergarten. The Board of Education approved this recommendation and the program began in the fall of 2008.
Residents approved the proposal for the combined $66 million capital project and the $6.2 million transportation project in December, 2008.
Construction/renovation work under the Generational Project
Planning for the construction/renovation portion of the project took place during the winter and spring of 2008-2009. A committee of district staff members, architects and project managers met regularly to plan for all facets of the project, from the construction schedule, to temporary relocation of classrooms and staff members, interscholastic sports venues and other extracurricular needs. Work began on the first phase on June 1, 2009.
Completion of the Generational Project in 2012 means that the facilities in East Irondequoit schools are among the best in Monroe County. The project impacted all six EICSD schools and accomplished a number of objectives including increasing instructional space, enhancing security, reducing costs by improving efficiency and providing state of the art athletic venues.
The district purchased 20 full size buses and 20 mini-buses for the first phase of the transportation portion of the project. Mini-buses began service during the summer of 2009 for special transportation runs.
During the 2009-10 school year, in the first phase of the transition to its own bus system, the district handled: 1) all home to school runs from Ivan Green Primary School, and a portion of Eastridge High School runs; 2) runs for required out-of-district private and parochial schools and special education placements for both East Irondequoit and East Rochester School District students; 3) sports, field trips and other extracurricular needs for both East Irondequoit and East Rochester School District students. The district will provide all necessary transportation beginning in the fall of 2010. In addition, East Irondequoit has also begun providing busing to other school districts for various purposes including field trips and extracurricular activities. This has resulted in an outside revenue source for the district. This project was completed with no impact on the local tax rate.