SWR’s board prepping plans: some with Briarcliff, some without

SAMANTHA BRIX FILE PHOTO | The Briarcliff School in Shoreham.
SAMANTHA BRIX FILE PHOTO | The Briarcliff School in Shoreham.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Briarcliff Elementary School may close as the district could not prepare separate plans for this year’s budget. Both plans the school board is debating offer options to leave Briarcliff open or close the school, depending on the results of May’s school budget vote. 

If voters don’t approve this May’s Shoreham-Wading River school budget, Shoreham’s oldest school, Briarcliff Elementary School, may be no more.

Shoreham-Wading River’s school board is planning to give residents two options this spring: vote for a budget that pierces the cap but keeps the district schools the way they are, or vote for a budget in June that stays under the tax cap but closes the Briarcliff school and shuffles around the district.

District officials had told the board it would be a logistical nightmare to draft up two separate plans, contingent on a vote outcome. The board must now choose between two plans. The first plan would split the kindergarteners between Miller Avenue and Wading River Elementary Schools. The other option — the so called “Princeton plan” — puts all the first- and second-graders in one elementary school, with the remaining grades up to fifth into the other elementary school.

Both plans will include two drafts, one with Briarcliff opened and with Briarcliff closed, said Superintendent Steven Cohen. If the school closed, the distrct would save about $2 million in principal and teacher salaries and operating costs, he said.

The Princeton plan would save slightly less money due to increased transportation costs, Mr. Cohen said, but would also allow teachers to collaborate more among the grades.

Board vice president John Zukowski asked why it would be so hard to prepare separate plans.

Assistant superintendent Alan Meinster answered that too many factors would need to be taken into account, such as instructing teachers and administrators on how to prepare for the coming school year. School officials later said that so long as the board decided on either the neighborhood school plan or the Princeton plan, the administration could prepare adequately to have options to keep Briarcliff open or close the school.

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