Groundbreaking set for Riverhead school bond work

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside

Riverhead school officials will break ground for construction at Phillips Avenue School this week, setting off the first phase of construction related to the voter-approved $78.3 million capital improvement bond, the administration has announced.

Riverhead School Board members, administrators and representatives from  BBS Architects, the firm that designed the plans for the school, will ceremonially put shovels in the ground at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Phillips Avenue Elementary School, which was built in the late 1950s and houses students in grades K-4, will receive a new library, roof, parking lots, student drop-off loops, as well as other improvements, school officials said.

“I am very proud of the library that will be built in this school,” said superintendent Nancy Carney.  “It takes the existing library and moves it into the 21st Century, with additional computing power and modern arrangements to teach reading and a lifelong love of books to our students.”

Construction also includes replacement of some sidewalks, renovations to bathrooms, and reconfiguration of some classrooms to create specialized learning centers.  Workers will also make improvements to make Phillips Avenue School compliant with federal disability requirements.

Construction plans and designs for the school were recently approved by the state, and were put out to bid in July, officials said at a school board meeting last month. The bids came in under budget, meaning the district will spend the leftover money on improvements to the school’s playgrounds.

“When the community gave approval to these projects in October 2011, I began anticipating this day,” Ms. Carney said.  “We have been working diligently on all of the pre-construction work these past 10 months, and now that we have received building permits and conducted all of our bidding, we are excited to begin the physical construction.”

The project, which is expected to cost about $3.4 million, will continue through the school year and into next summer.