Herricks reviews capital plan updates and new fitness center plan

Jed Hendrixson
(from left) Herricks Board of Education Trustee Henry Zanetti, student Christopher Soo and Superintendent of Schools Fino Celano. (Photo by Jed Hendrixson)

The Herricks Board of Education heard presentations last Thursday on facilities improvements that are underway or being planned as part of $29 million in capital spending.

Two presentations provided updates on the status of Phase 2 construction and preparation for Phase 4, a new fitness center at the high school, being financed through a bond.

The fitness center would feature cardio equipment, free weights, open spaces and an outdoor pavilion for instruction, according to BBS architect Kevin Walsh. Included in the plans are a large glass section looking out, to which Student Senate representative Christopher Soo posed alternatives in consideration of classmates who may be uncomfortable being seen through the glass.

The work would not be done for some time, Lisa Rutkoske, the assistant superintendent for business, said, but plans will need to be submitted soon.

Construction increased significantly over the course of the winter break while school was dismissed, Rutkoske said. On some days, more than 30 personnel were on site for several different contractors, according to data provided by the district at the board meeting.

Punch lists for several December projects in Phase 2 of the bond plan, passed two years earlier in December 2016, were completed and reviewed by BBS.

Completed work include the decorative fencing bordering the high school’s grandstand, installation of pendant lights and an oak sill in the cafeteria and several window and door installations.

Walsh also presented designs of a blue and gray curtain wall, updating the current wall at the back portion of the high school. Many of the windows on that wall are not functioning properly, meaning the update would be more structural than cosmetic, according to Rutkoske.

Phase 3 projects will include additional window and door replacements, and toilet room and plumbing improvements at the district elementary schools.

Soo was also recognized by the board for his participation in Boys State this past summer.

Boys State participants learn the rights, privileges and responsibilities of citizens, according to the American Legion. The training centers on the structure of city, county and state governments and involves legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, choruses and recreational programs.

As part of the evening’s agenda, the board approved the addition of four classes to the high school’s course selection booklet. The courses include News Literacy, Racial Literacy in Society, Debate and Audio Engineering.

The board also approved the awarding on mini-grants totaling $12,000 from the Herricks Community Fund to teachers throughout the district.

Though the board room was packed to standing room only with Herricks staff members showing support and solidarity in the ongoing district contract negotiations, no comments from the public were made about the dealings.

In Blank Slate Media’s recently published Guide to Schools & Education, the Herricks Teachers’ Association ran an advertorial claiming the board’s comments at recent meetings have been “half-truths,” and that responses would be published in the coming weeks.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 24. On Feb. 7 the board meeting has been moved to the newly renovated high school cafeteria, and Feb. 28 will be the board’s first budget meeting for next year.

About the author

Jed Hendrixson

Jedidiah Hendrixson is reporter for Blank Slate Media covering New Hyde Park and the Willistons.
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