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The Port Washington School District took another step forward recently to upgrade its physical facilities. The Spector Group architectural firm gave a detailed presentation of the schematic design for each building at the board of education's meeting on June 28. Some changes in the design were apparent from the initial conceptual plan. And while the school board decided to review and perhaps alter the parking solutions proposed, they voted, nonetheless, to accept the architect's plan. But many community members were highly critical of the board's action to vote to accept the schematic design before hearing from the public. Some, in fact, felt it fell far short in areas such as providing fully accessible buildings for handicapped persons.

Spector representatives explained that the design development phase comes next. It too will be presented to the school board. Thereafter, they will develop construction documents for all the buildings; submissions are then made to the State Education Department (SED) for approval. The SED may require alterations in the plans, Spector said. The construction is then sent out for bids, and finally, the construction gets underway. With the exception of a few areas in Schreiber H.S., they expect that the majority of the work will be completed by September, 2003.

Since the passage of the bond referendum for school construction/renovation, Spector reported meeting with staff, administrators, board representatives, facilities directors, and the superintendent. The architectural firm's representatives described it as a "refinement of the conceptual documents used for the pre-referendum," noting there were some small modifications from that which was presented at the time of the bond. The principals have signed off on the proposed designs. Highlights of the plans presented included:

* A classroom addition to Guggenheim Elementary School, at the rear of the building. Special education resource rooms and bathrooms are included. Plans call for a parking lot extension, with an option for an additional entry/exit for vehicles. Proposed date of submission to SED: 8/26/01. Expected completion date: 8/02

* An access point for buses, and a stack-up area, will be created for Manorhaven Elementary School, which, they noted, has major traffic and parking problems. There will be a gym addition, two accessible bathrooms, modular classrooms, and more than 90 parking spots. Plans have already been submitted to SED. Expected completion date: 8/02.

* The Salem School will be treated by the SED as a brand new school. A new kindergarten suite with three classrooms, plus a new playground are planned. The gym, stage, and OT/PT areas will be expanded. The library will be enlarged. Classrooms and bathrooms must be made handicapped-accessible. The traffic flow and parking still need to be discussed. While SED may need more time to review the proposal, currently it is hoped to be submitted to them by 2/02. Expected completion date: 8/03.

* Daly Elementary School should see a two story addition that includes an expanded gym and a pavilion-type entry, with a canopy. A parking area will be created up against an existing athletic field with additional parking along Avenue C. A double-sided new elevator is also proposed. "We have solved about 95 percent of the accessibility problems in Daly" a Spector representative said, though there was agreement that further review was needed regarding parking. This will be submitted to SED around 3/02; the anticipated date of completion is 8/03.

* Though plans for Weber Middle School still call for a three-story addition on the PW Blvd. side, removal of the existing parking at the building's front is no longer being suggested. Instead, they hope to have an entrance and an exit on Campus Drive, with additional parking spots. The storage shed at the rear of the school will be removed to allow buses to exit onto Bogart Ave. instead of Campus Drive. Portables are being constructed. Numerous interior renovations will occur, including the cafeteria, enlargement of the gym, and a new library/media center. The plan is scheduled to be submitted to SED in 1/02. Expected completion date: 8/03.

* Three portables will be moved from Weber to Schreiber H.S. and either become part of the Alternative H.S. or will be moved to the Montfort lot to be the headquarters of Buildings and Grounds. A three-story addition, an expansion to the front of the building, and a side addition, will add classrooms, a media center/library, an expanded cafeteria, and a technology suite. Extremely high estimates made planners drop the idea of adding parking around side and rear of the rear of the school. Instead, the only alternative was the use of the practice fields/Montfort site. The majority of the work at Schreiber will be completed by 8/03; the remaining areas, by 11/03.

At one point in the presentation, a Spector representative assured the board and audience that "accessibility will be solved everywhere...It's automatic."

A few school board members questioned the placement of parking at several district schools. The architects assured them that alternatives will be jointly discussed and new ideas can be resubmitted to the SED. After deciding that they would review the parking issue, the board of education voted to accept the schematic design for the PW schools.

This decision to vote to accept the plan prior to hearing from community members was met with disapproval from a number of people in attendance. SEPTA co-president and parent Larry Greenstein, for instance, was openly critical of the board's action. He pointed out a number of flaws, including the absence of a third ramp at one school, the need for a carefully planned, truly accessible playground at Salem, and the absence of handicapped stalls in all bathrooms, instead of "one or two handicapped bathrooms throughout the building that could take 20 minutes to get to, or back from." "Not having handicapped access to the high school building is demeaning to all...The board showed poor judgment in approving these plans," he said. Echoing his remarks was Robin Schroeder, who said ," There is no building in the district where a handicapped child can get a full education...I think that is disgusting." Earlier in the meeting, Jim Cowles recommended that the Nassau County Fire Marshals review the plans before the board approved them, saying, "I see a number of items that will not get approved." Later, he commented that there had not been any mention of the cost of the schematics and asked whether it was in the budget.

There was unanimity, however, when the board voted to have the administration building renamed in honor of the retiring Assistant Superintendent Ann Sue Israel. "The District wants to honor her in a special way," the resolution read. Mrs. Israel responded, saying, "I am honored, humbled, and thrilled by this..I thank you so much for this honor."


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