Westhampton Beach School officials announced on Monday night that they intend to relocate the district’s administrative offices, now housed in two trailers near the middle school, inside the building by tapping money in the district’s capital fund.
The project, which is set to begin this fall, will require construction crews to convert space previously allocated for the boys’ and girls’ locker rooms, as well as some music classrooms, for the offices, said Aram Terchunian, a member of the school board. The entrance to the new district office will be located in the rear of the middle school, which faces Mill Road.
In addition to the interior renovations, the $550,000 project calls for the addition of exterior signage, complete with either a canopy or awning, and new landscaping, according to Westhampton Beach School Superintendent Lynn Schwartz. The district offices will also be handicap-accessible.
School officials anticipate that work on their new administrative offices will begin in the late fall and should be completed by January 2009. Burton, Behrendt & Smith, the Patchogue-based architectural firm that oversaw renovations to the district’s elementary, middle and high schools, will also be designing the new offices.
Meanwhile, the two trailers that have served as the district offices for many years will eventually be demolished.
“We had a referendum in November 2007—four months ago—in which the community gave us the authorization to reauthorize the money available to go toward the relocation of the district office,” Mr. Schwartz said.
The superintendent went on to say that taxpayers gave the district permission to allocate $800,000 from its capital budget to cover the cost of the project. The remaining $250,000 will be used to finance the construction of a new weight room at the middle school.
District officials had originally intended to include both projects as part of a $16.5 million bond that was secured to finance extensive renovations at the middle school in 2004. Both projects had to be cut after bids came back higher than anticipated.
School Board President Jim Hulme explained that the $800,000 in funds was always intended to be used in association with the renovation project. Mr. Schwartz noted that capital line funding is part of the district’s operating budget and used to support infrastructure repairs and capital buildings projects.
Mr. Schwartz said one reason the decision was made to relocate the district office was to centralize operations, allowing administrators to be “more efficient” and enabling them to work “collaboratively on tasks.”
At the present time, the district offices operate from two different trailers. The superintendent, assistant superintendent and the director of pupil services, as well as their staff, are located in a portable classroom complex that is 25 to 30 years old. The remaining district offices, for technology and business, are based in a trailer near Montauk Highway, Mr. Schwartz said.
School Board members are excited that they will finally be able to have all of the district’s offices under a single roof.
“There’s no signage for the district office at the middle school—the door that we’re going to use is an exit-only door without a handle,” Mr. Terchunian said, explaining the need for the work. “So, we are going to make it more noticeable so when people come to the district office, they’ll know where it is.”
Mr. Terchunian added that about 20 people will work in the new district office.
Mr. Schwartz said the work on the administrative offices is the last phase of the ongoing middle school renovation project. He noted that before construction can begin on the offices, work on the middle school suite must be completed first.
School Board members are expected to discuss the details of the project at their meeting scheduled for Monday, April 28.