Charter school expansion plan pivots to portables

Riverhead Charter School’s latest expansion plan calls for setting up three portable classrooms adjacent to current facilities on land it rents on Sound Avenue. The school said it would use temporary classrooms until a permanent solution is found. 

The proposal requires a public hearing, which has yet to be scheduled, and a special permit from the Riverhead Town Board.

Charter school officials said they are planning to increase enrollment from 106 to 154 students next year. 

The plan, for the site at 5117 Sound Ave., is to use two of the three buildings for classrooms and the other one for administration and faculty use, according to officials.

Town Board members voiced support for scheduling the hearing.

However, Supervisor Tim Hubbard was critical of the fact that one of the three buildings was placed on the property already before receiving town approval. 

“I’m tired of people doing that,” he said. “That attitude worries me.”

He said town code calls for building permit fees to be doubled when someone builds without approval. 

Meanwhile, officials from the charter school told the Town Board at its work session last Thursday that they are seeking a new location for the high school building on Sound Avenue, which is leased. The Riverhead Charter School also has a campus on Route 25 in Calverton. 

Kimberly Judd, the attorney for the charter school, said they are in negotiations with “two promising properties. I think we’re very close.”

Back in March, the charter school dropped its plan to expand its high school on 12.3 acres on Sound Avenue. The plan had been criticized during a lengthy public hearing in March of this year. The school is now looking to fill the need for expansion with portables. 

David Edwards, the president of the charter school board, said in a letter at the time that “adult emotions have been directed at our students, causing them to feel as though they are not a part of this community.” 

He cited that as part of their decision to withdraw the original proposal and pivot to the latest expansion plan.

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