At a meeting that lasted well into the night of Jan. 15, the Rockville Centre Board of Education discussed the final elements of a $48 million bond proposal, debating how much space to add to the Watson school, how much air conditioning to add and whether to purchase a home that is for sale adjacent to the high school. According to Assistant Superintendent Robert Bartels, the cost for the average household would be $45 for every $10 million in the bond, or about $200 per year for the 30-year life of the bond.
The main discussion, however, was not about the size of the bond, but about what the district could get for the money. Reviewing estimates with the district’s architectural firm, BBS Architects, the board whittled down the list of changes to be made at all five elementary schools and at South Side Middle School, and some district-wide changes.
One of the first and most important issues discussed was adding space at Watson. Space is now at a premium in the elementary school, so much so that gym classes and orchestra lessons are both held in the auditorium, separated only by a curtain.
The original proposal from BBS called for adding one multipurpose room to the school, but the trustees agreed would not be enough.
“Based on enrollment projections, we can live with the space we currently have, except at one building,” said Superintendent Dr. William Johnson. “And that’s Watson.”
The principals of the other four elementary schools said that while more space would be nice, it wasn’t necessary. That allowed the district to expand its plans for Watson.
Instead of adding one classroom, BBS proposed adding three. This would be accomplished with new construction and remodeling. The district would build a new library, a new classroom and one new support space. The current library would be transformed into two classrooms. This would create three new classrooms as well as a larger library, adding 4,500 square feet to the building.