BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Riverhead High School library has been gutted and is currently under construction. Those renovations are expected to be completed by the end of December.
Riverhead School District officials say they have plans in place — or are hammering them out — to help ease transitional periods during construction this school year.
At the high school, three rooms are currently under construction: the auditorium, the library and the large group instruction room, known as the LGI room.
Superintendent Nancy Carney said the auditorium and LGI room are expected to be completed this fall.
The library should be finished by the end of December, she said.
“The whole space is going to be renovated and turned into a state-of-the-art media center,” Ms. Carney said. “There will be computer spaces and study nooks for kids.”
Ms. Carney said the district is meeting with Riverhead Free Library officials to collaborate student services during the library’s construction. Teachers are also gathering library materials and carting them into their classrooms, and students are using computer labs for research services, she said.
Roger Smith of BBS Architects in Patchogue, the company that designed the district-wide, $78.3 million construction bond project, said during a Sept. 10 school board meeting that construction at the Aquebogue, Riley Avenue and Phillips Avenue elementary schools is “substantially completed” and punch lists are expected to close out within the new few months. BBS is also working on a capital improvement proposal for the Shoreham-Wading River School District.
Riverhead Middle School construction plans have been submitted to the state education department, Mr. Smith said, adding that plans for Pulaski Street and Roanoke Avenue elementary schools will be sent to the state for review within a few weeks.
With the infrastructure improvements, the district is planning to change the way it feeds students.
The high school kitchen used to prepare all meals and ship them to each school. Now every building will be able to prepare fresh meals on-site. The Aquebogue Elementary School’s kitchen was the first to be completed and staffers there are currently preparing meals.
Ms. Carney said the district’s wellness committee will hold its first meeting Wednesday to come up with a new food service plan, including menus and partnerships with local farms. The committee is made up of school officials and Riverhead school board members.
As for the lunch staff, Ms. Carney said the district didn’t need to hire more employees because it was able to relocate some from the high school to other buildings.
In addition to the renovation of existing spaces at Riverhead High School, the Star Academy is moving into the main building. This alternative program, which has been housed in the high school’s portable classrooms, provides an atmosphere that promotes academic success while addressing more individual needs and learning styles. Ms. Carney said the district’s goal was to stop using the portables and instead move students into the main building to better integrate them into the regular academic program, including electives and extra-curricular activities.
In addition to the major renovations, the school board recently approved a $1.7 million repair-reserve fund project for various upgrades at the high school, including replacement of lighting and crumbling concrete in the back plaza courtyard, repair of the south and student parking lots and replacement of a damaged ceiling and lighting in the cafeteria, school officials have said.
Ms. Carney said she believes the district has been very organized with construction planning and is “very pleased with the progress.”
“The kids and staff are so excited about the new buildings,” she said. “It’s a nice feeling to be in an environment that’s so conducive to learning.”