The idea of moving students out of Jack Abrams Intermediate School in Huntington Station, near the site of gunfire during a recent school day, finds parents grappling with what's the best option for their children.
On Monday, the Huntington School Board asked the district superintendent to consider moving the 520 students in grades 4 to 6 to another building. District Superintendent John Finello said his staff is reviewing the request, including a move to the district's other intermediate school, Woodhull, where the students could wind up in split-day sessions.
Parents of children who attend Abrams had mixed reactions to the proposal.
Jim Montrevil said moving the students would be an overreaction. "They need to address the problem: kids with guns," Montrevil said as he picked up his daughter, Sarah, after school Wednesday. "They need to clean up the area, not move the students."
But Sarah, 10, disagreed and said she and some of her fourth-grade classmates "don't want to be here. It doesn't feel safe; there were shots around the corner."
Legeia Hill, whose daughter is a fifth-grader at Woodhull, was upset by the prospect of combining two student bodies - and the potential for overcrowding. The district has not provided details about how building space would be allocated or how a possible split schedule would work.
Hill, a mother of four, said she feared the children "would be crammed in classes, rooms would be overcrowded. That is not an ideal learning situation."
She added that abandoning the Abrams building would be devastating to the surrounding community.
"Kids and people would be running amok on the grounds at all hours," Hill said.
Rebecca Sanin, a member of a community task force and the Abrams PTA, said parents and the community are united in wanting the safest environment for children.
"Safety has to be the No. 1 priority. But I do believe that in the long run, moving the school or moving to a split-day schedule will put many more children at risk," Sanin said.
Since March 11, Suffolk police have established a greater presence in the area by using the school as a relief point for Second Precinct officers on patrol, a police spokesman said.
Dina Rebecca Bonney, 11 and a fifth-grader at Abrams, said she and her classmates were getting annoyed with talk of a move - they love the school.
"But if we have to move it will be OK," Dina Rebecca said. "It's more important for us to concentrate on our work."
Karen Davis has two children at Abrams and said that she too wants to see Huntington Station cleaned up - but until it is, she wants the children relocated.
"I don't know the politics of the issue, and it's beside the point," Davis said. "What's important now is the safety of all the kids and they should be moved urgently."