When the Hampton Street School opened its doors for the 2012-13 school year just a few weeks ago, students were greeted with a brand new library, music room and art room for their use during the academic year.
Before the start of the Mineola Board of Education’s regular meeting on September 20, board members and administrators held a small welcoming ceremony, inviting the public into the space for the first time.
“I think everyone will agree (that) all the rooms, especially this library has come out fantastic,” assistant superintendent of finance Jack Waters said. “There was a lot of effort put in by everybody.”
Waters thanking both the board and the taxpayers of the district who voted for the 2012-13 budget, which included funding for the construction of the addition.
“We did not have to bond it, we’re not going to be paying it over 30 years, we’re not going to be paying any interest on top of our original outlay of money,” board President William Hornberger said during the meeting. “So from a financial perspective I’m very happy with that. It is a beautiful facility so we look forward to the children and the kids and the students and the family members who are going to come and see it, but specifically for the kids and educationally get to utilize it to its fullest capacity.”
The 5,500 sq. ft. addition is located on the north side of the building, running along the old sidewalk toward Colonial Avenue. The existing sidewalk was made into a corridor that overlooks a new courtyard which would provide an educational space with curriculum based plantings.
The new enclosed space includes a janitor’s closet, handicapped accessible bathroom, a 750 sq. ft music rom, a 900 sq. ft. art room and two 150 sq. ft. resource rooms looking out to the field and an additional electrical closet. A glass wall would act as a partition between the library and computer room.
“We’re thrilled about that,” Hornberger said about the lack of bonding, “we’re thrilled that it was completed on-time. We’re thrilled with the way it came out. We hope the kids are going to have a great time in here, hope it helps their learning process.”
Bids for the project came in lower than the anticipated $2.1 million, with contracts for construction being awarded in the base amount of $1.375 million.
Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler could not attend the ribbon cutting due to being invited to participate in a roundtable by the New York State Commissioner of Education, who arrived an hour late.
“Had I been there, I would have said: ‘I am incredibly proud to bring this extension to the public and to our community. I think if you witnessed it, it is a beautiful facility for children, it’s age-appropriate, it is vibrant, we were saying the other night if you came during the day it’s filled with sun, it’s a welcoming place that children will enjoy for many years to come’,” he said during the regular meeting.
Diane Nodell will be the new librarian for the space. Since she was hired in August “she has not stopped working,” Dr. Nagler said. “when we interviewed her, we said ‘you know we have a new library.’ I think she thought in her head it was like a room and maybe a couple of shelves and she accepted the job before she actually saw the space. I think she went in and said ‘oh, my.’ She spent weeks here during the summer, she had her husband, children help her to stock the shelves to get it ready for opening day and I want to acknowledge that.”
While the small number of children in attendance preferred to practice the art of silence in the library when asked their first impressions, one of the mothers remarked that “I think for everyone it was such a delightful experience to walk in and start school in such a fabulous new space; it’s very special.”
Thanks were also given to Hampton Street School Principal Deborah Small, architect Veronica Burns, the school’s head custodian Joe Gonzalez for logistics work and Dan Romano, the district’s director of buildings and grounds.
“It was a team effort to get done,” Dr. Nagler said, “we’re very proud of it an as Will said, we’re proud to deliver something to the community that’s cost-effective, that’s age appropriate and will make this building viable for years to come.”