The Shoreham-Wading River school district is one step closer to receiving a new athletic field free of charge to the taxpayer.
The school board came to a consensus at its Tuesday night meeting to allow superintendent Steven Cohen to draft a resolution approving a plan for the Wildcat Athletic Club, a private charity that supports the district’ athletic activities, to install an indoor press box with bathrooms, permanent lighting, new bleachers and a turf field at the high school’s existing athletic field.
The project would come at no cost to taxpayers, as the club has agreed to raise all funds necessary to complete the field facelift.
About 40 people applauded after the school board voted for the resolution, and most of them left the meeting after discussions of the new field.
“This is an incredible amount of generosity to this district and we cannot offer enough thanks,” board president Bill McGrath said.
Christopher Rosati, a club member who is spearheading fundraising efforts, said the project’s total cost estimate is about $775,000. He has said a handful of community members have already agreed to donate labor and materials for some of the project.
Al Sutton, an architect based in Miller Place who has volunteered to work on the athletic field, said at the meeting that the first phase of the project, installing a 31-by-14-foot press box, would take three to four months, weather permitting. He said plans include moving the current bleachers to the opposite side of the field, an $18,000 undertaking, as opposed to constructing brand new bleachers at an approximate cost of $100,000.
In other news, the school board unanimously voted to allow a high school student to serve as an ex-officio member on the board next school year.
The student must have attended Shoreham-Wading River High School for at least two years and will be selected on the May 15 ballot during the budget vote. Ex-officio members are allowed to participate in school board meetings, but they may not vote or attend executive sessions.
Shoreham resident Michelle Belsky expressed concern over a student representative adding to the length of “already long” school board meetings.
She also said all students are currently welcome to attend but usually do not do so, indicating a lack of student interest.
“I don’t know what the significance of having a student on the board would be,” she said.
Board members said they wish students and more parents would attend school board meetings and make their voices heard, and that a student representative on the board would be a positive addition.
“Anything we can do to get [students’] thoughts and opinions, I welcome,” trustee John Zukowski said.
The selection process for determining the student representative has yet to be determined.