At last night’s caucus meeting, the Board of Education got updates on recently completed and upcoming facilities projects at schools across the district.

“Approximately 80% of our school buildings are between 80 and 100 years old,” said Superintendent Dr. Norma Fernandez, adding that these old buildings need significant improvements, including to their pipes, roofs, doors, and windows.

“We have made more repairs within the last year than we have done in the previous decade.”

In addition to a $3 million water remediation project passed by the board last month, new elevators were recently installed in the board’s central office and A. Harry Moore School. “Both of these elevators were out of service for years, way before the pandemic,” said Dr. Fernandez.

At Thursday’s regular meeting, the board is going to vote on two additional multi-million dollar facilities improvements: to repair and replace fire alarm panels at 26 schools for $3.75 million and to replace boilers district-wide for $5.1 million.

Student activists spoke at last month’s meeting to call out unsanitary conditions in various high schools across the city. Many of these students specifically highlighted their schools’ bathrooms as particular areas of concern. Last night, President Natalia Ioffe wanted to put a plan on record to prove the board’s dedication to resolving the issue.

Acting School Business Administrator Dr. Dennis Frohnapfel said that renovating school restrooms is a priority, and funds are set aside for it. “What we’re doing now is we are putting together the scope of work for the renovation,” said Dr. Frohnapfel. “Once we put that scope together, then we can estimate what it will cost for a bathroom,” which in turn will guide what work can be done in which schools.

According to Dr. Frohnapfel, “We probably need to refurbish bathrooms, at least, in more than 50% of our schools.”

Ryan Kilkenny was born and raised in New York. He graduated with a BS from Tulane University and a JD from Rutgers Law School. Ryan worked as an attorney for almost two years before switching careers and...