Shoreham-Wading River School District

Architect outlines SWR’s $48.5M construction plan

Roger Smith of BBS Architects speaks at Tuesday's Shoreham-Wading River Board of Education meeting. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)
Roger Smith of BBS Architects speaks at Tuesday’s Shoreham-Wading River Board of Education meeting. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

The architect who designed a capital improvement project for the Shoreham-Wading River School District’s outdated infrastructure gave a presentation Tuesday outlining the scope of construction. 

Roger Smith of BBS Architects in Patchogue told the school board the $48.5 million proposal includes several urgent upgrades to windows and doors, as well as fixing leaky roofs and making facilities handicap accessible. It also contains a plan to build a kitchen and cafeteria in the middle school that would provide meals to the elementary schools.

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

Mr. Smith also said portable classrooms at Miller Avenue and Wading River elementary schools will be replaced with permanent classroom space and new bus loops will be constructed, among other projects.

Over at the high school, some projects include building a new Apple Computer lab, upgrading the auditorium and replacing the condemned tennis courts. [For a complete list of all of the proposed projects, visit the district’s website].

“Your educational program is going to be enhanced,” Mr. Smith said. “Your athletic programs will be enhanced and the buildings with all of its pieces will be enhanced.”

Superintendent Steven Cohen titled his portion of the presentation as “The Renewal Story” and explained how the district is in dire need of the construction project.

“It’s obvious to everyone that’s investigated this issue that it’s time to put our house in order,” he said. “The project is intended to enable this community to provide for its kids what they have had in the previous 30 or 40 years.”

The superintendent highlighted how neighboring school districts in Riverhead, Rocky Point and Longwood have upgraded their facilities in recent years.

Shoreham-Wading River voters have never passed a bond, he said. The district’s most recent failed attempt was a $39 million proposal to fix only the middle school in 2009.

Residents approved a $1.6 million proposition in October 2012 to upgrade the district’s computer systems and make resurfacing repairs to the high school track using prior year state aid. The following spring, residents also approved using $3.9 million from prior year state aid funds for roof repairs and to build science labs.

A bond committee was formed in April shortly after the crumbling tennis courts were closed and deemed hazardous. The group of volunteers were tasked with evaluating each building’s needs and prioritizing them.

In October, the school board disbanded the bond committee after learning state law prohibits committee members from advocating for the proposal. Since then, Wading River PTA president Alisa McMorris and others have launched the Facebook page “SWR United for Rebuilding the Pride” to promote the bond vote.

Residents will vote Jan. 13 on the $48.5 million district wide capital improvement project. About $15 million of that total would be paid for through the prior year state aid portion of the district’s reserves. The district plans to secure a bond for the remaining $33.5 million. Since the project is expected to qualify for building aid from the state, Mr. Cohen estimates the district will receive about $16 million.

If approved, the average homeowner will start to pay in the 2018-19 school year about $30 a month over the bond’s term. Mr. Smith estimated it will take about 15 years to pay off the bond and life of the construction work will last between 30 to 40 years.

The school board will hold a work session to discuss the bond proposal at its next meeting on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. in Miller Avenue Elementary School.

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