Lynbrook school officials and community leaders celebrated the start of construction on a 33,274-square-foot extension of the high school, intended to enhance learning opportunities.
“This day is a long time coming for us,” Superintendent Dr. Melissa Burak said in a statement. “We have gone through many challenges in trying to figure out how we can best support the future of the high school.”
The community approved the project as part of a $28.9 million bond referendum in October 2017. The two-story extension will stretch from the front of the high school, where the security vestibule is, to the fields. The first floor will house a school store; three music rooms for the school’s band, chorus and orchestra; three art rooms; and an innovation lab for 21st-century learning. The second floor will comprise five new classrooms, including two for family and consumer science classes and one for the career development program.
Notable attendees at the groundbreaking ceremony included administrators; Board of Education trustees; architect Robert Cascone; project managers Tom DeBenedetto, Robert Fasulo and Frank Giorgio; and members of the Lynbrook Police Department.
Calls requesting comment from school officials about how much of the bond funded the extension, which grades would use the new classrooms, how long construction was expected to last and whether the coronavirus outbreak would affect the timeline were not returned at press time.
School officials have long sought the upgrades. The school’s current band room is cramped and is the only space where ensemble groups can practice, officials said. The chorus and orchestra have practiced in the auditorium for many years, but the extension will give them a proper space.
When the Herald toured the school in 2017 before the bond vote, Principal Joseph Rainis explained that many science classrooms did not have sufficient space for lab stations, and added that the school had only one science research facility, which was converted from an auto shop and doubled as a space for equipment storage.
The new science classrooms will range from 922 to 1,633 square feet, and will provide space for more science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, courses.
“If you marry engineering with science, that’s the heart of everything that’s happening today,” Rainis said during the tour. “And that’s what we want to do. So we’re going to set kids up to be able to light the spark, and then give them some opportunities to find their passion and take it to the next level.”
The total cost of the 20-year bond was $33.9 million, $5 million of which was covered by reserves. Approval of the bond raised property taxes by $168 a year for the average Lynbrook homeowner.
The bond’s approval came after a $46 million proposal was voted down by 314 votes in March 2016. After that failure, school officials scaled back projects, distributed a voter survey to gather feedback and restructured another proposal that was expensive but fit the district’s needs.
The bond also covered updates of the middle school locker rooms; installation of air conditioning in the elementary and middle school gyms; an upgrade of the wrestling room at the Lynbrook Kindergarten Center, across from the high school; and renovations to the auditorium.
At the groundbreaking, Burak thanked residents for their support. “A lot of time and effort went in on this,” she said, “and we are so thankful for all the support that we have received from the community.”