In an auditorium packed with parents and community leaders, the superintendent of the Huntington school district last night presented a list of options for relocating the 520 students who attend the Jack Abrams Intermediate School in Huntington Station.
Last week the school board asked district officials to consider moving the students out of the building after recent episodes of violence. Shots were fired about two blocks away on March 11 about an hour before school was dismissed. And on the night of March 17, a man was shot in the neck about a mile from the school.
Superintendent John Finello listed the options, which include swapping facilities with Huntington Town Hall, a former school building, and having a split-day session at the district's other intermediate school, Woodhull.
He did not offer a time frame for any move, most of which would require approval by the state Department of Education.
The school board asked the administration to set up a meeting with the town board sometime in the next two weeks to discuss switching locations.
In the first 35 minutes of public participation, all speakers expressed the need that crime in the Huntington Station community needs to be cleaned up. Most who supported relocating the children wanted to move them to Town Hall and in turn have the town offices relocate to the Abrams school building.
"I like the idea of swapping the school with Town Hall for a variety of reasons," said one parent, Michele Kustera, who lives in the Abrams attendance zone and whose two children will eventually attend the school. "If you put Town Hall here, then all the residents have to come here to do their business. And I think the local government would be more proactive to get resources to revitalize the neighborhood if all residents had to come through the neighborhood."
But another parent, Susan Ciancia, who has a daughter in the sixth grade at Abrams, said moving students elsewhere won't solve the problem.
"The superintendent did his homework, but none of the solutions are practical," she said. "We need to clean up the crime in Huntington Station."
In the past year Suffolk police have stepped up vehicle and foot patrols in the neighborhood, assigned an officer to the front of the school for arrivals and dismissals and established a relief point at the school for officers on patrol.
Parents have also called on the town to crack down on illegal housing. Town officials say so far this month, code inspectors dedicated to Huntington Station have issued 309 notices of violation, 30 demands for inspection and 55 summonses this month.
* Split-day sessions at Woodhull Intermediate School
* Lease commercial property, possibly a former car dealership
* Lease the former Robert K. Toaz Junior High School on Nassau Road
* Lease space in buildings in neighboring districts
* Add modular classrooms at other district buildings
* Swap space with Huntington TownHall, a former school building