Kitchens, cafeterias could be add-ons to SWR bond plan

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Briarcliff Elementary School kindergarten teacher Jane Jacobs said she’s had a positive experience working with all of the district’s kindergarten teachers in one building. It’s the only elementary school in Shoreham-Wading River with a kindergarten program.

Kitchens and cafeterias are being considered as part of an overall infrastructure improvement and grade-realignment plan being considered by Shoreham-Wading River School District board members and administrators.

Currently, only the district’s high school has a kitchen and cafeteria.

Roger Smith of BBS Architects in Patchogue gave a presentation during the school board’s Tuesday night meeting on plan, which divides students into buildings by grade level, an approach known as the Princeton Plan, developed in Princeton, N.J., and currently in use in many other districts.

Under the consultant’s plan, Briarcliff Elementary School would become a kindergarten-only building. That school currently runs a K-1 program. During the presentation, Mr. Smith said grades 1-3 could attend either Miller Avenue or Wading River elementary schools. Students in grades 4 and 5 would go to the other of those two schools.

Mr. Smith said the realignment plan would cost the district about an $8 million.

In addition, he said, it would cost approximately $11 million more to build kitchens and cafeterias at Miller Avenue and Wading River elementary schools and Prodell Middle School. No such facilities would be added at Briarcliff.

School officials stressed that the kitchen/cafeteria proposal was added to the discussion because residents have incessantly asked why there are no cafeterias in the schools. That component of overall infrastructure plan is not tied to the grade realignment proposal.

If the school board decides to move forward with both realignment and facility upgrades, Mr. Smith estimated that it could vote on a resolution in October and set a Dec. 10 special election for voting on a capital improvement bond proposal.

School board vice president John Zukowski said he isn’t comfortable making any decisions until the community has had more opportunity to weigh in on the discussion.

“The Princeton Plan was first discussed at the last meeting,” Mr. Zukowski said. “We need to hear from the community on whether or not the Princeton Plan is something they embrace. I think that’s an important first step before releasing a bond.”

Jane Jacobs, who teaches kindergarten at Briarcliff, said she’s had a positive experience in her building since it became the district’s sole kindergarten school about 14 years ago, after the Wading River kindergarten program moved to Briarcliff.

“With the rigor of Common Core, knowing the children are receiving the same skills in instruction is a comfort to parents,” Ms. Jacobs said. “We’re not cookie cutters and we don’t do exactly the same thing. There’s a continuity there and the curriculum is delivered in the same way from room to room as a result of us being in the same building.”

Tuesday night’s meeting was the second public forum held this summer to discuss the district’s capital improvement options as officials struggle to find a way to cut costs while preserving programs and keeping the district under the state’s tax levy cap.

Superintendent Steven Cohen said potential savings from the K-5 realignment would occur through reducing the number of class sections and reducing staff, including eliminating a principal, a psychologist and a music teacher.

“We would be able to preserve class size, all of our programs and improve professional development,” he said.

The board agreed to schedule workshops next month at the Miller Avenue and Wading River schools to discuss the plan with the community.

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