Manhasset board of education brainstorms school improvement projects

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Manhasset board of education brainstorms school improvement projects
Manhasset Public Schools Superintendent Vincent Butera presented 25 potential capital reserve fund projects to the board of education. (Photo by Teri West)

With about $5 million in capital reserve funds, the Manhasset Public Schools have the opportunity to carry out projects officials have been dreaming about for years. Right now, however, the list goes on and on and there’s only so far $5 million can go.

Superintendent Vincent Butera compiled a list of potential projects, which he presented at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting. Some of the ideas are for individual schools while others, such as improved lighting or air conditioning, would affect them all. Butera’s list  had 25 potential projects.

District architect John Grillo will be at the Oct. 4 board meeting to participate and answer questions about cost estimates for the projects.

The board spent most of its Thursday meeting throwing around opinions and questions about the list Butera compiled. 

Projects such as improving a PA system or building an elevator to the secondary school focus on renovating or adding components that do not currently satisfy student and teacher needs. Others are facilities or resources that would enhance the student experience, such as a social-emotional learning (SEL) wing and innovation lab for STEM classes in the secondary school.

The SEL wing would be a redesigned space for the guidance counselors, psychologist and social workers that administrators hope would make students more comfortable using them as resources.

Manhasset Secondary School Principal Dean Schlanger said his initial thought is it would be “more middle school-centric.”

The board would work with mental health agencies to design it.

“We want to make it a place where kids can go and want to get help,” Butera said. 

Another proposal is a new security vestibule at Shelter Rock Elementary School at the east entrance by the gym.  

However, the project would cost about a half-million dollars, said Rosemary Johnson, the deputy superintendent for business and finance. In discussion, the board continuously found that funding one project would mean giving up another that they had just excitedly discussed.

“This is really about setting priorities and then finding ways to fund those priorities,” Butera said.

A couple of parents came to express concern about the lack of air conditioning in many school classrooms. Air conditioning was on the list of potential projects that would affect all schools, but Butera said he was told it would cost $25 million to $30 million to fully air condition all of the buildings.

“They’re shuttling back and forth to the computer lab to cool off, the windows are open so … the sirens and Northern Boulevard, it’s just incredibly disruptive, and the teachers, I don’t know how they’re doing it,” said Ted Post, who has two children attending Munsey Park Elementary School. “So obviously 25 or 30 million is preposterous, but I think that the parents are willing to dig in.”

The board hopes to reach a vote to approve specific projects by the end of the school year, and it plans to set a target date at its next meeting.

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