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Residents packed the auditorium at Schreiber High School at a special meeting held on Jan. 4 at which the Board of Education adopted the long-range facilities plan. The current estimate for the plan is $86 million (based on gross square footage) and accommodates the projected enrollment of 5,300 students through 2009/10. The proposal includes an option for a swimming pool at Sousa for an additional $4 million.

Two of the seven board members, Richard Sussman and John Zimmerman, presented an alternate proposal, for the first time, after Dr. Inserra made his presentation. Their plan is estimated at about $30 million, accommodates 5,940 students and includes a pool.

On terms of reporting on the five hour meeting, due to the enormous amount of material covered during it, the article will be written in two parts, one this week, the other next week. This week's piece will cover the two presentations. Next week's will review the public commentary and the actual board vote.

Speaking about the importance of good facilities, Dr. Inserra noted that "Bricks and books do go together." However, he did emphasize a few times that the "teacher is still the most important ingredient," for a child's education.

In terms of Port Washington, Dr. Inserra continued, the condition of the current facilities are now getting in the way of providing a quality education for the students. To solve the problem, he told the audience that for the last two and a half years, the BOE members have been at 70 meetings at which "facilities" were on the docket. He spoke generally about the complex problems that had to be resolved.

Stressing the need for facilities improvements in Port, he informed the audience that the district had tallied up the amounts of money the school districts in Nassau County had approved for facilities bonds over the past five years. He reported that while the countywide figure was close to $500 million, Port had only spent $1.5 million during that time period.

Looking ahead over the next few weeks, he informed the audience that the board is interviewing construction managers who have vast experience in school construction and will help to mitigate problems during the construction phase of the project so that the children's education will not be disrupted.

In addition, because it's an "inevitability," he reported that he will be forming a task force on redistricting.

He then moved on to a review of an outline of the plan, noting that the community and school had a "shared vision" in the formulation of the facilities plan.

* Incorporate community input

* Deliver excellence in education

* Maintain optimum elementary class size

* Ensure that each elementary school not exceed 600 children

* Maintain a safe/quality learning environment

* Deliver an equivalent educational program in all elementary schools.

He then reviewed the objectives of the plan:

* Maximize use of existing facilities

* Accommodate the increase in enrollment

* Provide class size consistent with current research and practice

* Ensure that facilities match the philosophy of the Middle School program

* Provide appropriate space for children with special needs, accommodating those currently served out of district

* Support the increased demands of a technology rich environment

* Create facilities that can be used by the community

* Spend bond moneys wisely

* Spend for the long term to save money and time

He then proceeded to explain how the district "got here."

* Increase in student enrollment----Already overcrowded with additional 1,000 new students projected by the year 2009

* Facilities assessment---Buildings and fields are worn and outdated

* Increased demands on facilities based on educational program goals because of more rigorous academic standards; growth of technology program and state mandates to return special needs children to their schools

On the subject of enrollment, Dr. Inserra informed the audience that as of September 1999:

* Largest kindergarten enrollment (393) in 25 years registered for school. This is 38 percent larger than the graduating class of 2000 (283 students).

He then noted that the average enrollment K-6 is 20 percent higher than the current average enrollment for grades 7-12.

He also stressed that the existing facilities are inadequate for the children already in the system.

Continuing the presentation, Dr. Inserra reviewed the details of the proposed plan which recommends Five K-5 elementary schools utilizing Daly, Weber, Manorhaven, Salem and Guggenheim; a 6-8 middle school at a renovated Sousa School accommodating 1,200 students; a 9-12 high school at Schreiber accommodating 1,700; in addition to an alternative high school. pre-k program and offices for central administration. (Next week's report will include an outline of the renovations planned. However, the Port News published a detailed report on the proposed plan in its Dec. 9 issue in the story on page three entitled "Looking at $85 Million for School Facilities Bond" and another story on page 33 titled "Descriptions of Design Approaches for Each Facility.")

Dr. Inserra then provided the per household cost of the impact of an $86,700,000 bond debt over 22 years on school taxes using debt payment.

Current Property School Tax Increase Per Year With 28 %
Tax Bill 18 % State Aid State Aid
$4,000 $255 $224
$8,000* $510 $448
$12,000 $765 $672

* Average district property tax

Pool option $22/year

What's next now that the board adopted the plan? Dr. Inserra said that from now until about April 1, the district will submit the long-term plan to the State Education Dept.; finalize architect's contract; hire a construction manager; have the schematic designs drawn and finalize the cost estimates.

On or about April 1, the BOE will finalize the bond amount. After that, the community bond vote will be held sometime in May. If the community approves the bond, the plans and specifications are completed for State Education Department submission. He said that construction could begin in January 2001.

For the first time, Mr. Sussman and Mr. Zimmerman disclosed their own long-term facilities plan. It calls for five elementary schools each in a grade configuration of K-6, a 7-8 junior high school. and 9-12 high school, which eliminates the 6-8 middle school that was implemented in 1995.

Even though there's a huge difference in cost, Mr. Sussman and Mr. Zimmerman say that their plan is based on the BOE's plan and on district architect Ralph Ottiano's estimates. They explain that $30 million is saved in their plan by not renovating the Sousa School into a middle school. (Their plan calls for $0 expenditures at Sousa.) They also say that by not tearing down interior walls to increase the size of some of the smaller classrooms that currently exist in some schools, money is being saved.

Mr. Zimmerman commented several times that his main concern is that a backup plan is necessary because, in his view, the community will not support a facilities plan costing $86 million. And when the bond fails in May, he noted, this means further delays in providing needed space in the district. Moreover, if the plan is not approved by the end of June, the possibility of losing an additional 10 percent in State Aid looms on the horizon.

Two advantages, in their opinion, of their plan are that the pool is located at the high school, not the Sousa School, and that Weber is 7-8 school, not an elementary school, as called for in the BOE's plan.

In addition, the plan calls for the necessary redistricting being completed before the bond vote so that the parents know which schools their children will be attending before they approve the plan.

While acknowledging that the plan still needs work, Mr. Zimmerman made his presentation based on the following outline, which was handed out to some of the members of the audience. Here it is verbatim.

Common Sense Plan for Around $30 Million

There are Alternatives!

Our Plan will be Honest with the Entire Community!

Honesty about the Cost!

Honesty about Guggenheim Fields

Honesty about Redistricting

Honesty about Alternatives

Our Plan will be Honest about Redistricting!

Let the People know the Truth

Stops the back-room deals by the BOE

Public DOES have Right to Know

Inform the Public Before the Vote!

Here's the Difference
The BOE Plan Common Sense Plan
$85,000,000 about $30,000,00
5300 Students 5940 students
No POOL! includes POOL!

Manorhaven School

* Cost = $3,450,604

* Capacity = 500 Students

* Estimate per Ralph

* Excess Capacity with existing portables...Other uses???

* Short Term Solutions should add to Long-term capacity

Guggenheim School

* Cost = $3,270,948

* Capacity + 640

* Estimate per Ralph

* Build in One Phase

Sousa School

* Capacity now is 618 students

* This total does not include the pre-K students (about 960 kids)

* Ample capacity - needs only minor changes

Daly School

* Expand Cafeteria

* Build New Gym

* Build 12 Classroom Addition- 870 SF

* Retain old Gym for other use

* Total 27 classrooms over 840 SF

Daly School Advantages!

* Lower cost- Estimated $4,722,165

* More Newer Classrooms

* Less Disruption

* Smaller classrooms converted

* Less Interior Alteration-Less Risk!

Salem School

* Build Brand New Gym

* Build 2nd Floor Classroom Additions per Ralph Ottiano design

* Retain First Floor Configurations

* Retain old Gym for other uses

Salem School Advantages!

* Lower Cost - Estimated $6,596,100

* Less Interior Renovation

* Smaller classrooms converted

* More Explainable to Community

* More Space!

Weber School

* Current Capacity 960

* Maximum Estimated Enrollment = 850

* Average Capacity, next 10 year = 772

* No Current Renovation Necessary!

Weber School Advantages!

same as above plus

Cost Savings $30,000,000

* Weber has a short-term space problem regardless of the plan

* Solve Short-Term needs with a permanent addition instead of temporary portables

* Extra capacity - an Asset for the SD

* Common Sense = Voter Support!

(To support the switch from a 6-8 middle school concept to a 7-8 grade school, Mr. Zimmerman offered the following;)

Encyclopedia of Educational Research- Sixth Edition, Volume 3

"Most researchers and practitioners agree that schools need to be more concerned about good practices for the education of early adolescents, and less concerned about one "best" grade span, because grade span in itself is not the major determinant of whether a middle grade school is or is not implementing innovative or effective practices." page 837

Schreiber High School

General Classroom Wing

* Current Capacity 1160

* New 18 Classroom Addition

* Estimated Cost $3,600,000 per Ralph

* Added Capacity 450 students Plus

* Less Interior Renovation = Less Risk

Schreiber High School

Science Classroom Wing

* PLUS Add 3 Biology Labs, and 1 Chemistry Lab, and 1 Physics Lab

* Includes 4 Storage & Prep work areas

* Estimated Cost is $1,700,000

* Estimates per Ralph Ottiano

Schreiber High School Advantages!

* Less Interior Alteration means less Disruption of Student Activities

* With Block Scheduling, the 450 added capacity is very conservative (Probably closer to about 560)

* Excess Capacity = Alternative uses

Add Pool to High School!

Short Term Solutions

designed for Long-Term Answers

* Short-Term Needs at Daly, Manorhaven, Weber and Schreiber

* Don't recommend Portables

* Do Additions now!

* Adds to permanent Capacity for other Uses "down the road!"

Plan Advantages

* Much Lower Costs

* Less Disruption

* No Large 1200 Person Middle School

* No Elementary School near the HS or Alt. HS

* Educationally Sound

* Honesty to Community

* Truthful about Alternatives

* Adds Pool where it Should be!

* Shorter Lead and Construction Time

* No Doubt about Yes Vote!

Beneficial to the KIDS!

Plan Advantages

It is Common Sense!

* The Plan is based on the BOE Plan

* A No Vote on the $87 million plan is not a 12 month delay

* The Common Sense Plan could serve as a Back Up! Makes Good Common Sense!

* No Delay in Building or in a re-Voting

Helps to PRESERVE STATE AID!!

Everybody W I N S ! ! !

Cost Summary of Common Sense Plan

Manorhaven $3.5 Mill
Guggenheim $3.3 Mill
Salem $6.6 Mill
Daly $4.7 Mill
Sousa $0.0
Weber $0.0
Schreiber $7.0 Mill
Pool at HS $3.0 Mill
Total Costs $28.0 Mill
Sussman and Zimmerman also proposed another alternate plan, described as the "5-8 Option," for $34.7 million.

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