Charter school breaks ground on $14M construction project

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead Charter School students at Thursday's groundbreaking ceremony.
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead Charter School students at Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

The Riverhead Charter School held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday to celebrate the start of its $14.1 million construction project that will accommodate the school’s increasing enrollment.

Charter school principal and executive director Raymond Ankrum gathered with hundreds of students wearing yellow hard hats at the school on Route 25 in Calverton and explained how the new building has been “years in the making.”

“Finally, it’s happening,” he said. “It’s an exciting time for our students and employees. We’re on the verge of big things.”

The 50,000-square foot project is expected to include a two-story building with new classrooms and space for an auditorium, gymnasium, library, administration offices and a kitchen. The design features will include a grand main entrance atrium and a large bay window that will act as a reading area in the front of the building.

Outside, there will be a general grass play area with landscaping, including tree plantings and standing ornamental lampposts.

A new bus loop, parking lot and drainage system will also be constructed.

The school will also get its first gymnasium, and a 150-seat portable bleacher.

Officials said the state Board of Regents approved the charter school’s request in March to expand its program through eighth grade, making it the only K-8 charter school in Suffolk County. The school was established in 2001 as a K-6 program and currently has students enrolled from about 14 local districts.

About a month after the state’s approval, the charter school held a lottery to fill open positions in the school’s kindergarten and grades 1, 2, and 6 programs. Mr. Ankrum had said the lottery was the first of its kind at the school, which saw more applications before the deadline this year than ever before.

Normally, the school will put students on a waiting list if they apply after the April 1 deadline, but this year the school received more applicants before the deadline than they had spots to fill.

Officials said the new facility will be able to accommodate about 500 students, up from its current capacity of 300.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Mr. Ankrum also gathered with representatives involved with the project, including BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers of Patchogue. The company is also involved with capital improvement projects in the Riverhead and Shoreham-Wading River school districts.

Representatives from Stalco Construction of Islandia; the project’s general contractor, SCC Construction Management Group of Hauppauge; the project’s construction manager, DeLuxe Building Systems of Berwick, Penn.; and PW Grosser Consulting, also attended the event.

The project, which will be paid for through a bond, is expected to be completed next winter.

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