Half Hollow Hills leases closed Chestnut Hill Elementary School

Chestnut Hill Elementary School, at 600 South Service Chestnut Hill Elementary School, at 600 South Service Rd., Dix Hills, is in the Half Hollow Hills School District. (Jan. 25, 2012) Photo Credit: Alessandra Malito

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The Half Hollow Hills school district has leased part of its recently closed Chestnut Hill Elementary School to a nonprofit educational organization.

The lessee, East Setauket-based Alternatives for Children, offers child care and preschool programs at four locations on Long Island. Wendy Jorgensen, the organization's clinical director, said the group plans to relocate to Chestnut Hill Elementary in Dix Hills from its Melville site because it is expanding.

She said the enrollment in Melville is about 75 children, which includes child care. She said the group hopes to be ready to open Sept. 3.

The organization's lease starts Aug. 15 at Chestnut Hill Elementary, which was closed along with Forest Park Elementary School in June due to declining enrollment.

Several other Long Island districts have studied leasing and selling vacant school buildings, and some have gone through with rentals and sales.

Alternatives for Children provides services for children, from birth to age 5, including those with special needs.

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"Their mission aligned very much with the district," said Anne Marie Marrone Caliendo, assistant superintendent for finance and facilities. "It was just a very natural fit."

Alternative's lease is for five years. It will pay $120,000 in rent in the first year and will be allowed to use 11 classrooms. The organization has the option to request more rooms, costing an additional $7,000 per classroom annually, the lease agreement said.

Rent will increase 20 percent in the second year and 3 percent each year after. The organization will have the option to renew the lease for another five years. The organization will also have access to the principal's office, health office, other non-classrooms and storage areas, the lease said.

"We're very excited about it," Jorgensen said. "I think it's going to be a great collaboration.

Board of education president James Ptucha said board members unanimously approved the lease at their July 8 meeting.

"We want to maintain the schools and we, too, of course want to keep the money flowing," he said.

He said there are other parties interested in the other half of Chestnut Hill and Forest Park.

The district will not lease space in the building to anyone else providing similar services that Alternatives for Children provides, the agreement said.

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In addition to its base in East Setauket, Alternatives for Children has sites in Aquebogue and Southampton. Chestnut Hill Elementary School is at 600 South Service Road in Dix Hills.

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