Conditions at Maurice W. Downing School raise concerns

Posted

“We’re all looking to maintain property value in Malverne,” said John Ferguson at the Malverne School District’s board meeting on Feb. 13.

Parents were able to ask questions about the 2018-19 budget proposal, but Ferguson, who lives on Nottingham Road near Maurice W. Downing School, spurred a discussion on the grounds behind the school and said its aesthetics have declined.

“Malverne’s a middle class school district,” Ferguson said, “but when you get to MWD, it looks like we’re in a low-income housing school district. It’s not something that should be considered as Malverne pride.”

Ferguson also said that while the district’s high school and administration building look beautiful, the grounds at Downing School have been an ongoing issue for more than a decade.

“There’s been a real commitment to beautify [our] schools, and I don’t think it’s just at the high school,” said Board of Education President Josephine Bottitta. “We’ve tried to coordinate the look of each school so that it’s consistent throughout our district.”

Ferguson later said that vandalism in the Downing School’s playground has been an issue that has not been addressed. Anita Jurgielski, who also lives on Nottingham Road, suggested school officials should lock the gate near the parking lot after hours to lessen the chances of vandalism.

Bottitta said that several years ago when the district started locking the parking lot gate near the high school, people climbed over it — causing a safety hazard. She explained that it’s all a “balancing act.”

“We do take safety very seriously, and we do take the grounds very seriously and the beautification of it,” Bottitta said. “We have to address our property in a way that seems fit for our students, and for the cost in our budget.”

Bottitta encouraged residents to contact the Malverne Police Department if they see vandalism.

John Gaeta, another resident who lives on Nottingham Road, agreed with the concerns that were discussed at the meeting, but his biggest issue is that there are no speed zone signs near the school.

“People come down Nottingham Road pretty fast,” he said. “In the parking lot where the teachers park, a lot of parents pick up their kids there, and these people are flying down Nottingham Road pretty fast.”

Bottitta said that since the road is village property, the issue should be presented to the village board.

Victor Dacosta, another Nottingham Road resident, said that going forward, the district should continue to develop its partnership between the school and parents. A better way to handle such issues, he said, is for the district's central administration to improve its communication and collaboration.

Have an opinion about the quality of Maurice W. Downing School? Send your letter to the editor to ngrant@liherald.com.