I am writing in regard to your article "Future of Salem School Still in Limbo." My name is Dorothy Christofides. Prior to moving to Port Washington and having my second child I worked as a Designer and Space planner in a New York City architectural firm. As a service to my clients, I helped in their search for new office space by developing a program for their needs and allotting the proper square footage. In a time of terribly tight budgets, this was a very important service. After reading this article, with my background, I find it hard to believe that the future of the "Salem School" is still in "Limbo" and I would like to address a few items.
The article states if "Salem is used as another school, the district would accommodate the rising student population at the elementary level and eliminate the overcrowding at the rest of the elementary schools and eliminate the need to build new additions on to the existing elementary schools." The article also states that the district requires a 25,000 square foot administration facility and if Salem is used "as a multi use building serving as administration center and community space for the district," "space not utilized by the administration could open a number of possibilities for the community (i.e. Senior Citizens Center, a youth center, adult education, an environmental center and a community meeting center.)"
So why is the future of Salem School still in Limbo?!
How can the administration be looking to create needs for the Salem School when there are already have huge needs? This goes against all my training.
The Salem school is more space than the administration facility needs, and surely the administration facility doesn't need 7.17 acres of land. We have wonderful community space already available to us at the "Landmark Building" and at the library, as well as senior citizens and youth programs. If the administration was my client I would advise my client to look for a space more suitable to their needs and not beyond!
Money wise the article states the difference between renovating the building as a school or as an admin/community center would be a difference of $235,365 (a nominal amount...but we still don't need the community space). The article also states that, if Salem becomes a school, "a district administration center of approximately 25,000 square feet would be created, which in Mr. Ottaiano's view, would "negate any cost savings."
Has anyone asked Mr. Ottaiano to do a cost analysis between the cost of building a 25,000 square foot administration center and the cost of building the additions onto the elementary schools to alleviate the existing and future overcrowding. Additions onto the schools would involve more than just classrooms. Building codes govern that there are so many toilets per child, as well as so much square footage per child in the lunchroom/auditorium spaces. The gym and other support functions could be affected as well. I can't imagine that these additions would cost less than a 25,000 square foot administration facility. I would really love to see a program developed for the additions and a price tag.
As a designer and space planner, I would like to throw out another idea as a possibility. The existing administration building is a plain, sprawling, one-story building with a flat roof. Has anyone looked at the possibility of adding a second story addition?
My son just turned 3, and will be entering kindergarten in 2000. My daughter is 18 months and will be entering kindergarten in 2001. I would love to have them go to the Salem School. I've heard how wonderful the Guggenheim school is. Will it still be so wonderful when it's larger and it has a larger student population? Will a sociologist be consulted to advise on how a larger school population will impact the dynamics of the schools affected, prior to a decision on the fate of the Salem School? Will school grounds be infringed on by additions onto the schools?
It seems that the administration is telling Mr. Ottaiano what they want and he is developing his research accordingly. (Can't blame him for doing his job.) I urge any other designers and architects (who have code books accessible) out there who've been following this saga to help me out! Write to the Board of Ed, write to this paper. We need some independent research to support the Salem School.