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Story - Education

East Quogue School Board considers expansion

Publication: The Southampton Press
By Jessica DiNapoli   Jan 21, 2009 3:41 PM

East Quogue School Board members have hired an expert to determine if they must expand the district’s elementary school to accommodate future population growth in the hamlet.

East Quogue Superintendent Les Black announced at Tuesday night’s board meeting that the district hired Jonathan Hughes, a professor at St. John’s University, which has a campus in Oakdale, in mid-December to complete the study. The study should determine if school officials are going to need to expand the Central Avenue school in the future.

Mr. Black said Dr. Hughes expects the study, which will cost the district a few thousand dollars, to be finished in March. Mr. Black did not have the exact cost of the study.

School Principal Robert Long said Wednesday that it is too early to say if an expansion would be required at the school. He also said that officials do not know how much such a project would cost, or when it would begin.

“We need the study information to make the educated decision,” Mr. Long said.

There are 454 students now attending the elementary school, according to the district’s website. Mr. Long declined to state the school building’s maximum capacity.

“All grade levels have three classes, except the fourth grade, which has four,” Mr. Long said, adding that there are about 22 children in each class. “There’s no set figure on the maximum capacity.”

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Mr. Black described space in the elementary school as “tight.”

“We have speech services in the hallway,” he noted.

Bob Kandell, a representative of the East Quogue Chamber of Commerce, first broached the topic of school expansion during Tuesday’s meeting. He pointed out that Southampton Town’s recent lifting of a 2-year-old moratorium that temporarily banned new development in the hamlet could soon result in a building boom. The moratorium, which covered more than 4,100 acres in East Quogue, ended on August 11.

“Maybe we should hunker down now and do something before it’s too expensive,” Mr. Kandell said about a possible school expansion.

East Quogue Civic Association President Al Algieri suggested that the School Board purchase a 1-acre lot that is located immediately south of the school. Mr. Algieri suggested that the district buy the lot, which is listed at around $400,000, last year as well.

Mr. Black dismissed Mr. Algieri’s suggestion and emphasized the importance of focusing on the study for now. “It would be foolish,” Mr. Black said about purchasing the property before Dr. Hughes’s study is completed.

Mr. Algieri insisted that East Quogue taxpayers would be in favor of purchasing the land. He said Wednesday that buying the lot would be the cheapest way to expand the school—if the district must do that in the near future.

Mr. Black explained Tuesday that there are other alternatives to buying the land that must be considered. For example, he said officials might be able to add new classrooms onto the school to accommodate more students. State officials would first have to let administrators know if the school could be expanded before any work could begin, according to Mr. Black.

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