Frequently Asked Questions

During St. Luke's expansion, it is our goal to communicate openly with you as we receive information about timing of construction and expansion of our program. We recognize that these issues are important to your families, and we will share information on this page as frequently and as quickly as possible.

We thank you for partnering with us during this "Build" phase of our expansion.

What has been accomplished thus far in preparing for construction?

We completed significant preparation work during the summer of 2015. The foundations for the six columns that will support the addition have been dug and grouted. This was a massive undertaking requiring placing two drills in the basement and digging 92 feet until we hit bedrock.  Many walls were torn down to make room for the equipment and the foundation work.

A lot of infrastructure work has been completed that is not immediately visible. We have created the base shaft for the elevator that will be installed next summer.  Vents and beams have been relocated in the library, kitchen, and dining room.  Electrical systems have been upgraded. 

Initial light well work has been completed until after school concludes. At that time, the windows will be installed into the two basement classrooms.

What activity has happened during this school year?

Window wells will have white tiles on the outside of the wall to reflect more light into the classrooms for the current Grade 6 and 7 rooms. This construction will be started in mid-February and will be completed this summer. We are looking at ways to personalize the wells to give our current students a sense of ownership and excitement about the project.

We are excited that we will be able to install air conditioning in our current gym over spring break, which will benefit all of the children currently enrolled in the school.

Will scaffolding impact the playground?

Scaffolding has been erected across the St. Luke's grounds. The construction crew will enter the project through stairs erected on Greenwich Street, and they will have no access to the school. Our current playground will not be impacted by the scaffolding.

How is security being handled during construction?

The board authorized an additional half-time security staff member for next year to address issues of construction and general security. In addition, the school will hire security to monitor the construction project.  All construction personnel will either access the project from the Greenwich St. exit, or if it is necessary to enter on the Hudson St. side, they will be accompanied by school personnel.  Even though there is a separation between the worksite and the school, our contractor screens their employees and requires sub-contractors to submit a list of their work crew before any personnel can be admitted into the construction site.

Where will each of the grades reside after the summer renovations of 2016?

Classroom configuration for the 2016-2017 school year is as follows:

  • Grade 4 classrooms will be in either the existing Grade 4 classroom or the current art room which will be renovated over the summer.

  • Grade 5 will move to the basement classroom with window wells where Grade 7 held homeroom this year.

  • Grade 6 will remain in the basement classroom with window wells where the grade moved this year.

  • Grade 7 will move to the current Grade 5 room on the second floor.

  • Art will move to the Lower Annex below the foreign language classroom.

Unless listed above, all other classrooms will remain in the same location.

How will the construction affect the day-to-day of students and teachers?

Our architect describes the engineering of the new construction by saying we are building a bridge over our current building. The “bridge” becomes the floor for the addition, which is essentially a completely separate building on top of, but not resting on, our current structure.

Not only does this provide a safe structure, but it also means that construction will be contained, and the day-to-day impact on children and learning will be minimal.

Will the dining room be renovated during this period of construction?

The dining room space will remain the same size unless we are able to raise the additional funds necessary for the renovation of the kitchen and second school entry point. This redesign of our current kitchen into a commercial kitchen will give us back 3 to 4 feet for additional dining room space. These changes include a second school entry point where Susan Harriot’s office currently is.

Where is the air intake for the building?

Currently the air intake for our HVAC system, which supplies the air to the basement and other limited classrooms, is located outside the dining room on the Hudson Street side of the building. Construction will take place along Greenwich St. After construction, air intake will be located on the roof of the new construction. We will monitor air quality throughout construction.

What is the projected construction timeline?

Prep work for construction began in June 2015 with the official groundbreaking scheduled to be June 2016. The goal is to deliver the addition by mid-June 2017, well in advance of the beginning of school.

What is the size of the addition?

The two-story addition will add approximately 20,000 square feet, including 9 new classrooms, a 4,300 square-foot gym, new space for learning specialists, second science room, onsite dance room, an expanded music room, and an expanded multi-purpose performance space.

Who are the members of the design and construction team?

Andrew Bartle of ABA Studio
Chris Norfleet of Séamus Henchy and Associates, Inc.
Archstone Builders LLC

How is the school communicating with students and parents about the project?

We have spoken directly to the Upper School students during a Convocation assembly, using many of the same slides we have showed the parents to explain the construction project.  The Lower School students will learn about it in their classrooms. 

This spring, our faculty will explore ways to incorporate aspects of the construction into their lessons to take advantage of having an active construction project on site.

We will communicate with the parents regarding construction details through email every other week and through our website. We will communicate directly with parents, not through the students.

Has all of the money been raised for the expansion through philanthropy?

St. Luke's School continues to raise the funds necessary for this expansion project. Please check out Building Our Future for more information, or contact Jocelyn Bowman, Director of Capital Giving and Communications, at jbowman@stlukeschool.org.

In addition, St. Luke's has entered into a $12 million loan to finance the construction. The total cost of the project to be delivered in September 2017 is $24,000,000.

How will the teaching model change for Grade 4's double section and why?

In 2016-2017, the Grade 4 model will be to have three lead teachers, Elon Rosenberg, Becca Esler, and Colin Andersen. Our current Grade 4 single class has a full-time lead and a part-time lead teacher. Each of the lead teachers next year will be full-time. Elon and Colin will be the homeroom teachers, and Becca will serve both classrooms. In addition, we will use our learning specialists to offer even more small group instruction.

By Grade 4, students have transitioned from learning skills to applying skills, so they do not need as much direct instruction. This model will allow us to group across sections and provide both support and enrichment to all students so we can focus on mastery or extension as needed. The use of three teachers across two classrooms also introduces the concept of shared teachers, which is the model in Grade 5, and departmentalization, which begins in Grade 6. For these reasons, in Grade 4 we intentionally transition from a model with a lead teacher and an associate early in his or her career to three experienced lead teachers across the grade level.

Will the Upper School follow the same pattern as the Lower School in terms of class schedules, student-teacher ratio, and number of teachers per grade?

Unlike the Lower School, where the additional class per grade will have an additional teacher and associate teacher, the Upper School will maintain the current structure, that is the “two groups per grade” model; however, each teacher will be teaching two groups of 15 or 17 students rather than 8 or 10. This will be a welcomed addition for both students and teachers, who will benefit from livelier interactions and dynamics in the groups.

Will the drama program change?

We have hired an arts integrator who works with the fine arts specialists and the classroom teachers. The drama program is designed according to what is developmentally appropriate for each grade and what integrates most successfully with the curriculum.

Ultimately, the program will contain both grade-level and class-specific productions depending on the age of the child, the nature of the material, and the needs of the curriculum.

Will the music program change? Will we still have one band and one chorus?

The music program will continue to focus on general music instruction and enjoyment from JK through Grade 6 and offer a choice of either Chorus or Band for Grades 7 and 8. We will continue to have a second, part-time music instructor for the 2015-16 school year.

What are the plans to accommodate the increased audience during the drama and music performances?

In the near term, increased audience sizes will be accommodated in a variety of ways: offering more performances, targeting certain performances for specific audiences, using the gym more frequently as a performance space, and accessing offsite performance spaces.

Ultimately, our current gym will be converted to an auditorium able to seat our parent body and accommodate audiences for our productions.

How could the current playground change in future years?

We have rights to ground-level play space as part of our lease. The Church of St. Luke in the Fields has the right to build a community center on the stretch of playground along Hudson Street, roughly where the play structure is currently located. Once the church builds their community space in several years, we will use both the ground-level playground, most likely for the younger children, and a rooftop playground, most likely for our older children.

How will the PE program change in the long term due to additional classes and an increased nuimber of students?

St. Luke's has hired a third physical education lead teacher who will start in the fall of 2016. Generally, though, the structure of PE will remain the same with each grade having classes from 3-4 times a week depending on what is developmentally appropriate. The larger gym is being designed to accommodate classes of 36 so PE will be taught one grade-level at a time.

The development of the dance program and the creation of a dance studio in the Archive building has allowed us to offer a strong physical education program and has opened up our current gym for more classes during construction.

Are we still going to use the Archive building for the PE dance program after the construction is complete?

We are not sure how we will use the space in the Archive building at this time, but it is possible that we will continue its use for dance, drama, or space for our support services such as business and development.

Will the school continue to host games in our gym during construction?

The current uses of the gym will remain: physical education during the day, intermural sports and practice before and after school, and rentals at night.

This will not be impacted by construction or renovation. We do not anticipate closing the current gym until the new, expanded gym is completed and accessible.

Will the school expand use of indoor and outdoor offsite resources such as Pier 40 to accommodate the growth in the Upper School?

The school is always looking to maximize its use of offsite facilities to support our program.

What are the plans to accommodate the increased number of parents during the games in our gym?

Expansion occurs one grade at a time as the grade progresses through the school. There will not be an impact on parents eager to see games until 2017 when we have two sections of Grade 5. By that time, we should have a new gym with an expanded viewing area.

Is there a lunch program change on the horizon?

A parent-led committee will be evaluating our lunch options to determine whether we move to another lunch provider. This discussion is driven by whether or not we remain a voluntary lunch program, as caterers require a minimum number of meals in order to participate. We will have discussions early next year about whether to move toward a compulsory lunch program or not and then look for providers based on that decision. The earliest there would be a major change in food service provider would be September 2017.

What progress has the church's developer made, and how has the developer planned to accommodate noise, dirt, etc. during their construction?

The church's developer, Toll Brothers, has made significant progress on the residential building next to our gym and art room. The construction causing the most noise is behind us. Once the exterior walls of the apartment building have been erected, there will be little impact on the school. The wall of the school, the air space between the buildings, and the walls of the new building will buffer sound and noise from future construction.

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