Written by Daniel Offner Thursday, 23 January 2014 00:00
The Levittown Board of Education has opened a new chapter in what has been an ongoing debate in the district over the years—What to do with the Laurel Lane school?
Built in 1956 as an elementary school, the 13-room school house would be home to several tenants over the years. It was most recently used to house the district’s alternative education center, but when the program was relocated to the Levittown Memorial
Education Center, in 2009, it left the building empty for the past four years.
On Jan. 15, the school board voted unanimously to enter a three-year lease agreement with the ELIJA school for autistic children.
Curious about the cost and potential liabilities that would remain part of the district’s responibilities, Trustee Peter Porrazzo asked, “We’re responsible for utilities?”
Based on the lease agreement the district would remain responsible for the upkeep of the facility. Levittown Schools Superintendent Dr. James Grossane explained that the district would still serve as the landlord of the school house, but would agree to rent it out to the ELIJA Foundation.
The ELIJA Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that serves parents, educators, professionals and caregivers of Austistic Spectrum Disorders. Founded by two parents in the spring of 2002, the ELIJA school uses Applied Behavior Analysis to keep educational programs for their children effective, exciting, enjoyable, based on the most current research findings.
Marianne Adrian, a Levittown parent who lives around the corner from Laurel Lane, said the district should lease the empty building to the ELIJA school.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” Adrian said. “I think we should at least put the school to use.”
However, the new lease agreement is not the first time the school board has tried to find an alternative use for the property. Laurel Lane was first closed in 1978 because it was too small to remain an elementary school. Since then it was home to the school district’s vocational school, leased to a school for problem teenagers, leased to the Montessori School, used for the district’s gifted program, its GED program, and leased to the Nassau-Suffolk School for Autism.
“If it is something that can help our district.... then go for it,” said Christine Lang, a Levittown parent.