Eastport’s Tuttle Avenue School Remains On Schedule To Open In February

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Construction crews are still working on the Tuttle Avenue Elementary School in Eastport, which remains on schedule to open in February 2014 for students in kindergarten through the second grade.

The roughly $25 million, 60,000-square-foot school will offer plenty of space for about 450 students, many of whom must now attend class inside portable classrooms located behind the Eastport Elementary School, which stands next door. The students will have to wait until early next year to enjoy the district’s newest building.

“They were supposed to be temporary,” Eastport South Manor Schools Superintendent Mark Nocero said of the portable classrooms that have become permanent fixtures outside Eastport Elementary.

He noted that some teachers have taught in the district for close to 30 years without ever having a proper classroom. Once the district’s youngest students are transferred next year, Eastport Elementary will only instruct students in the third, four, fifth and sixth grades. As part of the ongoing work, that school’s library media center was recently renovated and repainted, and the building’s classrooms received new floors, windows, ceilings and lighting.

Though district officials had hoped that construction on the new school would be finished by the start of the 2013-14 school year, which begins on Tuesday, September 3, Hurricane Sandy drew workers and machinery away last fall, delaying the work. The superintendent explained that the children will be brought into the two-story school for visits to acclimate them to the new environment before they officially move into the classrooms.

On Monday, Mr. Nocero led a tour through the new school, a white hard hat atop his head, and pointed out its unique details, from the rotunda near the entrance to the pastel-colored terrazzo floors. He explained that he and Board of Education members had a hand in all the architectural details, down to the color of the classrooms. They tried to create a warm and inviting environment that would promote learning, he explained, while moving away from the bland colors of traditional schools.

“It was fun,” he said. “I never got so excited about floors.”

The new school features about 25 classrooms and separate wings for each grade level, with the kindergarteners and first-graders downstairs, and the second-graders on the second floor. The library and cafeteria both feature walls made entirely of windows, allowing for plenty of natural light.

Once completed, the building is expected to receive a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design gold certification, the second highest designation, for its environmentally sustainable design. It will feature geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, and lighting that adjusts based on the time of day and amount of sunlight entering the building.

“We’re under budget, which is always wonderful,” Mr. Nocero added.

Wiedersum Associates Architects of Hauppauge was the lead architect on the project and the Triton Construction Company, which has offices in Garden City, is building the structure.

In April, the district announced that Karen Koliadko, the former assistant principal at Eastport Elementary School, would serve as the new principal of the Tuttle Avenue Elementary School. When reached earlier this week, Ms. Koliadko said she is thrilled to be able to work with the district’s youngest students.

“It’s a very special time,” she said. “They come to us at that age and their eyes are so full of wonder and everything is exciting to them.”

She added that she was appreciative of the details that went into the design of the new school, including the minor aspects, such as the height of the coat hooks; they were lowered a tad to accommodate the younger students. “It was really thought out,” Ms. Koliadko said.

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