Board of Education Reviews Enrollment/Capacity Needs

As the Board of Education continues to shape its full bond proposal, the Oct. 24 meeting featured a discussion on enrollment and capacity issues at the Middle School/High School, Colonial, Prospect Hill and Siwanoy.

A demographic/capacity study performed by Western Suffolk BOCES last school year projects school enrollment to continue rising over the next 5-10 years, raising concern about the capacity of the schools, which currently are at or near capacity according to that report and confirmed by the District’s pre-bond services architects at KG&D.

In conducting its due diligence, the Board of Education commissioned a second capacity study by Ross Haber Associates and those results are expected to be presented and discussed at the Board’s next meeting on Nov. 14.

Middle School/High School Campus

Through discussions with principals and analysis by the District’s consultants, the Board has identified the following issues at the high school/middle school campus:

  • Lack of a dedicated orchestra rehearsal space
  • Over-utilization of classrooms which reduces flexibility in course offering and impacts instructional time
  • Limited flexibility to adjust for projected enrollment increases

To address these concerns, the Board is considering relocating the District’s central, special education and business offices out of the high school and re-purposing that space into classrooms. This approach could yield six additional classrooms plus an orchestra space and is estimated to cost approximately $2.7 million. Before deciding whether to include this option into the final bond scope, KG&D and the District staff will determine to what extent this change could alleviate the capacity concerns and investigate options and associated costs of relocating the District offices that would be displaced.

Elementary Schools

While the Board is moving forward with a proposal to build a new Hutchinson School, Siwanoy, Prospect Hill and Colonial schools are each at their respective capacities. Additionally, Colonial and Prospect Hill are projected to increase sections within the next five years.

Options being considered to address these concerns include:

  • Using a push-in approach for art and music classes where supplies are brought into regular classrooms (this is already the case for music at Prospect Hill).
  • Shifting a self-contained special education class at Colonial to the proposed new Hutchinson School
  • Investigating future building-extension concepts

With regard to building extensions, it is important to note that Prospect Hill & Siwanoy each have enough space to expand, however those schools would require ADA accessibility upgrades. Colonial was made ADA compliant as a result of the most recent elementary bond and construction in 2010, but currently does not have enough space for an extension, prompting the Board to discuss the possibility of, and process for acquiring adjacent land should it become available.