The long-shuttered Prospect School in the Hempstead school district will welcome back students next month, 16 months after the beginning of major reconstruction -- a period that included a 31/2-month delay due to asbestos abatement and superstorm Sandy damage.

The newly refurbished school, located on Peninsula Boulevard, is slated to be used as a districtwide kindergarten center. It was closed in August 2003 because of nagging structural issues.

"This building will signal a significant change to the community of the serious approach this administration is taking to upgrading the educational environment," Lennitt Bligen Sr., community representative on the Prospect Renovation Oversight Committee, said at a board of education special meeting last week.

The opening of the Prospect School, built in 1907, will allow the district to move students out of portable classrooms in other buildings and help alleviate overcrowding.

The school's first day of class and grand opening ceremony are scheduled for Sept. 9.

"We're bringing the building in on time," board president Betty Cross said at the meeting. "This is the first time that I was here in 30 years that we bring in anything on time."

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The project, funded by an $18.1-million bond approved in March 2011, is being paid for almost entirely from state grants -- the district allocated $500,000 for the project, district officials have said.

Among the improvements are a new playground in the rear of the property, a library, colorful classrooms and energy-saving fixtures. All-new furniture is scheduled to be moved in by the end of the week, officials said. The paving of the parking lot and landscaping are expected to be completed by Aug. 19, the construction managers said.

"We're well underway," Eze Small, chief operating officer and president of Garden City-based Elite Construction of NY, told the board at its meeting. "You'll be in, in September."

The Prospect School had been an elementary school before closing. The new kindergarten center will house 550 students, officials have said.