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Amityville schools studying a bond referendum to fund expansion and improvements

Amityville Memorial High School is shown in this

Amityville Memorial High School is shown in this 2011 file photo. Credit: Alexi Knock

Amityville schools officials and community members are planning a possible bond referendum for expansion and improvement of its five schools, Superintendent Mary T. Kelly said last week.

District buildings approaching 90 years old are developing problems associated with old age and hundreds of students are learning in portable classrooms because of cramped conditions inside schools, she said. Meanwhile, enrollment is growing, from about 3,090 to a projected 3,784 projected by 2023.

"The school district is an important part of the health and well-being of the community," Kelly said, and improvements and repairs to its facilities would allow "us to meet the needs of the community and the children in the future."

Kelly said the amount of the bond has not been decided. State aid would cover about 53 percent of project costs. A referendum could be held in late fall, she said.

Redevelopment of Frontier Mobile Home Park in North Amityville is expected to contribute to an influx of students across the district, which serves North Amityville and East Massapequa as well as Amityville Village. Demographic studies completed last year suggest the largest gains will be at Amityville Memorial High School and Northeast and Northwest elementary schools, officials said. Those schools already serve more students than they were designed to hold.

"We've had to improvise on use of space," Kelly said. Part of an auditorium stage has been converted to a classroom and a gym has been partitioned to hold occupational and physical therapy, she said. "These spaces are small to begin with, and in terms of the standards that apply today, they are very outdated."

Patchogue-based BBS Architecture is advising the district, and architect Roger Smith will brief the board of education at its Sept. 9 meeting, Kelly said. BBS has worked with a number of Long Island public school districts on expansion and improvement projects.

A 22-member committee composed of school board members, district staff, PTA and community members will develop the scope of work, she said. That committee met for the first time in a closed session last week and will continue meeting through the fall.

More than three-quarters of district students in the 2013-2014 school year were judged by the state to be "economically disadvantaged," meaning they or their families participated in assistance programs such as free or reduced-price lunch or foster care.

The 534-employee district has a budget of $80,838,781, according to its website.

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