$14M expansion of Riverhead Charter School on track

A $14.1 million expansion of the Riverhead Charter School is scheduled to be completed by December. (Credit: Tim Gannon)
A $14.1 million expansion of the Riverhead Charter School is scheduled to be completed by December. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Despite a rough winter, the Riverhead Charter School’s $14.1 million building expansion is on target to meet its goal of being completed by December, and is within its budget, according to Will Recce of School Construction Consultants, who is the construction manager on the project. 

And while it might not look like it can meet that deadline now, much of the construction isn’t taking place at the charter school’s Calverton campus, and you’ll soon see a steady stream of prefabricated buildings being delivered to the site, according to Mr. Recce.

Work on the 50,000-square foot project began last October. The school will add a gym and cafeteria, library, administrative offices and a kitchen.

The addition will allow the school to add grades 7 and 8, something the state Board of Regents has already given the K-6 school approval to do.

Mr. Recce said the structural steel for the gym/cafeteria, library and lobby has been erected and completed and is ready for a final inspection, and the electric and water services are ready for tie-in.

But much of the building will consist of pre-fabricated modular units which are being built elsewhere, Mr. Recce said.

“About 80 perfect of the modular units are complete in a factory in Pennsylvania and they’re ready to be shipped,” Mr. Recce told the Charter School trustees Tuesday. “The other 20 percent is basically online in the factory and are being worked on as we speak. There are seven units already delivered on site.”

A crane is scheduled to be delivered to the site this week, and once that’s set up and ready to go, then they will start putting those buildings in place, he said.

“After that, the deliveries will start,” Mr. Recce said. “There will be five to six units per day that they plan on delivering. Things will start to move over the course of the next month-and-a-half to two months. You should really start to see a building assembled.”

Walk Away, Renee

Unlike regular public schools, the Riverhead Charter School’s board of trustees are not elected by the public. Instead, they are appointed by the other members of the trustees.

On Tuesday, trustee Renee Harris-Thompson’s first three year term on the board was up, and it was up to the other four trustees presents to reappoint her.

Ms. Harris-Thompson said the school’s bylaws don’t call for the trustees to vote to renew board members terms, but board members Zenobia Hartfield and Sue Heintz disagreed.

And when it came time to reappoint Ms. Harris-Thompson, no other board members made a motion to do so.

“It’s never been a practice since I’ve been a trustee, but since no motion is being made, I got the hint,” Ms. Harris-Thompson said. She then got up and left and didn’t return.

The board has already been seeking new trustees, and recently interviewed three candidates at its last meeting.

Social media plan revised

An unofficial Facebook page for Riverhead Charter School parents was recently created to try and publicize some of the positive things going on at the school, according to principal Ray Ankrum.

It didn’t work out that way.

“A lot of negative stuff was going on that page,” he said.

Much of the negative comments stemmed from the recent dispute in which some former teachers have accused the school of union busting.

“We don’t want to take away a parents’ voice, but it should be at the board meeting,” Mr. Ankrum said.

The orchestrator of the unofficial Facebook page has since taken it down as a result of the negative comments, and now the school has its own official sites on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Mr. Ankrum.

And if you’re looking to write some negative stuff on them, you may be out of luck. The school will be able to monitor the posts to decide what goes up, Mr. Ankrum said.

“Now we can let parents learn about the positive things we do,” he said. “We do amazing things here, but we don’t tell anyone.”

He said, for example, the school children will be doing a peaceful protest at the post office across the street next Tuesday morning on the “Bring Back Our Girls” theme, which deals with the recent abduction of more than 250 young girls in Nigeria.

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