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BOE Discusses Middle School Building Damage, STEM at Action Meeting

Section of MS Needs Repairing; Possible Causes Are Hurricane, Earthquake

In the wake of two unusual events, at least by Long Island standards, Hurricane Irene or the aftershock of the earthquake in Virginia may have contributed to the structural damage at the Westbury Middle School, according to Superintendent Dr. Constance-Clark Snead.

The superintendent said that the damage was discovered when the building inspectors conducted their annual review of the district’s edifices, at which time cracks in the chimney and damage in the rear of the old wing of the middle school were reported to the district’s engineering, architectural and insurance firms.

“In the interim, some classes have been placed in the small gym in the middle school and in the library,” said Dr. Clark-Snead.

Westbury Facilities Director Michael Batkiewicz offered further explanation of the situation and what it means for the students and staff going forward.

“We are also looking for five portable classrooms as temporary housing for the students in the building as it will take several months to get this corrected,” said Batkiewicz, who noted the importance of targeting which event specifically triggered the damage.

“The district also needs to determine what caused the damage to see what policy it will fall under, hurricane, earthquake or general insurance,” he added.

A representative from one of the firms involved in the process said it may take up to eight weeks for a full report to materialize.

“The building is a 1924-1930 vintage style structure, but unfortunately there are no existing original building plans. Over next few weeks, we will spend time developing elevations and choosing locations for probes to see how the building was put together,” the spokesman explained.

As far as the academics are concerned, Dr. Clark-Snead noted that enrollment is at 4,609 as of the meeting. In her monthly “Superintendent’s Report,” she said that class sizes are close to 30 at the elementary level.

“We have an increase in our enrollment and that’s across the board. All I can say is they’re moving into Westbury,” she noted.

The district, under the contingency budget, is currently operating with fewer afterschool programs.

“We will have limited programs in the afternoon, but we are very fortunate that the Chase Foundation and the United Way will continue to fund the afterschool program at the middle school,” said the superintendent.

The district’s S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Magnet Program has been very successful and a part of “discussions of national replication,” according to Clark-Snead.

“Our physics program is getting quite a bit of notoriety. We are ahead of the curve and I’m really pleased about that. As a result, there are other school districts that would like to replicate our model.

“The trustee board at the Cradle has been in contact with the Obama Administration and taking our model and replicating it to make it a national model. As a school district, we are really moving forward in the areas of math, science and technology,” said the superintendent.