In the 15 years since the state took over the Roosevelt school district, measurements of progress have often been elusive. Large amounts of state aid haven't solved the systemic problems, but one trouble spot, the deteriorating high school building, may be ready for a turnaround.
Residents voted recently to add another $40.5 million to the pot of money already allocated to reconstruction of the high school, so the project can finally move forward. That brings the total cost to entirely rebuild the district's high school, three elementary schools, as well as construct a new middle school, to $245.5 million. The state, which took over the district in 1995, is shouldering most of the cost.
But that only takes care of the crumbling high school building - not the mediocre education taking place inside. It's one of the worst performers in the state. The Board of Regents has little choice but to intervene.
The demand for a better upper school has opened the door for Roosevelt's outstanding K-8 charter school to make plans for expanding to grades 9-12. The very successful Roosevelt Children's Academy, which has $7 million in the bank, hopes to build a high school and welcome its first class in two years. Long Island's first charter high school couldn't replace the traditional public one, not should it. As it has done for the lower grades, however, it can be a model, showing that schools with the right leadership, discipline and parental involvement can succeed. hN