Architect presents ways to add classrooms to Munsey Park school

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Maria Herrington, a Munsey Park Elementary School parent, at Thursday night's board of education meeting. (Photo by Teri West)

A crowd again joined the Manhasset Board of Education Thursday to discuss potential capital reserve projects, this time delving into ways the district can add classrooms to Munsey Park Elementary School or air conditioning to the three district schools.

District architect John Grillo presented four options for how to reconfigure spaces in Munsey Park Elementary School to create more classrooms.

The least expensive and least involved option is moving a sheetrock wall in the large computer lab on the second floor to open up the room. Space could then be soundproofed to serve as a music room, Grillo said, swapping roles with a first-floor music room that could then become a general-purpose classroom.

That project could be done as early as this summer, while the others wouldn’t happen until the summer of 2020, he said.

The option that could create the most potential classrooms would involve building within the space that is currently the stage.

The stage could be divided into two floors of smaller rooms. Grillo estimates it would cost about $1.2 million.

Those rooms could not be regular classrooms because they would not have any windows. Instead, “specials” could move into that space, said superintendent Vincent Butera. A teacher in the audience also suggested moving specialists there or creating a psychologist suite.

“The stage is really underutilized,” Grillo said.

The intention in adding a classroom to Munsey Park Elementary School would be to create flexibility to accommodate for the student population fluctuating year to year, Butera said.

Right now there are 42 classrooms. Ideally, there would be 46, he said.

At the board meeting two weeks ago, parents expressed concern about what many took to be an increasing student population in the school or the district.

Munsey Park’s current enrollment is 917 students with 42 class sections, according to data Butera presented Thursday.

That is up 35 students from last year.

The most recent peak was during the 2009-10 school year when there were 948 students. Enrollment dropped as low as 863 in the 2014-15 school year before increasing gradually every year since.

It is projected to increase to 938 and then 953 during the next two school years, requiring up to 45 sections.

“There’s more seniors graduating than kindergarten students coming in, so we expect enrollment to, by and large, and this is districtwide, to plateau,” Butera said.

His data showed that there is one Munsey Park classroom section that has more students than district guidelines recommend.

The school anticipates having seven next year.

At the meeting earlier this month, Butera said the board is working to accommodate for that increase.

On Thursday, Grillo also explained the logistics and cost of classroom air conditioning, which the board has labeled as a pressing district issue.

Unit ventilators, which both cool and dehumidify rooms, would cost about $40,000 per room, Grillo said.

It would cost $28 million just to air condition Shelter Rock Elementary School and Manhasset Secondary School, he said.

Classroom space and air conditioning are two of several projects the board of education has labeled as high priority when considering where to designate capital reserve funding. It will continue to narrow down the list to accommodate for the limited funds in the reserve and plans to have a proposal finalized in February.

About 20 parents and teachers attended Thursday’s discussion, plus one very well behaved child.

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