An ongoing bond referendum project has aided in Albert G. Prodell Middle School’s makeover. Thanks to the $48.5 million bond voted on in 2015, repairs and expansions have led to many changes across the district, including renovations to the middle school library by the end of this summer, and a new cafeteria and kitchen addition by Jan. 1, 2019.
“It’s been a very exciting time for the district with the bond work and the renovations,” Superintendent Gerard Poole said. “Opening up the schools this fall was great with those new vibrant spaces for our students, so we’re looking forward to the work this summer.”
The construction is being headed by South Huntington-based Park East Construction, and according to Poole, the district is currently in phase three of four and right on schedule.
The middle school’s library will see an internal redesign. Currently, the library walls only reach three quarters of the way to the ceiling, and the plan is for the new walls to go all the way up. The overhead lighting and circulation desks will be replaced.
“I think part of it is modernizing it, and the other part of it is redesigning it into an instructional space,” Poole said. “The library is the heart of the building, so modernizing it is going to be great for the instruction of the students.”
The extension for the kitchen and cafeteria will include a new freezer and utilities. The kitchen, and its staff, will provide a health-based menu much like the cafeteria at Wading River Elementary School, that was completed in summer 2018. Poole said that the kitchen may provide opportunities down the road for culinary classes.
“Whenever you make a space in the school, people seem to make use of it,” Poole said. “I wouldn’t rule it out.”
“We had students where the only bathroom they could use in the whole school was the one in the nurse’s office. It was bad, because those students just wanted to be like everyone else. This has definitely made a difference.”
— Christine Carlson
The middle school is also scheduled to receive parking improvements with the addition of 20 spots in the rear of the building and main office, guidance department and nurse’s office quarters.
Cracked track asphalt and roof repairs were already completed last summer. Water fountains, carbon monoxide detectors, a phone system and additional AEDs were also added at Prodell.
Bond construction work to date
Phase one of the bond project was completed in 2016 with the reconstruction of Shoreham-Wading River High School’s tennis courts and roof. The high school’s football field was also upgraded with new turf.
Phase two of the project included renovations at both Miller Avenue and Wading River elementary schools.
Outside, Miller Avenue’s parking lot was reconstructed with additional parking in the front as well as a new bus loop that goes to the rear of the building. Inside, the school was expanded by the addition of new kindergarten classrooms, and some pre-existing classrooms were enlarged to fit internal bathrooms. Bathrooms in the front of the school have also been made handicap accessible. Miller Avenue Elementary School Principal Christine Carlson said the change has helped students feel less segregated from their peers.
“We had students where the only bathroom they could use in the whole school was the one in the nurse’s office because it was the only one accessible to them,” Carlson said. “It was bad, because those students just wanted to be like everyone else. This has definitely made a difference.”
Wading River Elementary School also saw the construction of new classrooms and renovation of several existing ones. The school’s floor was redesigned and part of the roof was refurbished. The main courtyard had major flooding issues, so a new water filtration system was installed.
The building also saw the addition of a new kitchen and cafeteria. Kitchen staff arrive early in the morning baking bow-tie pasta with fresh basil pesto, grilled chicken, steamed carrots and fresh fruit.
Wading River Elementary School Principal Louis Parrinello said that the renovations have made a huge impact on the morale of the school.
“When you’re not focused on facilities, of floods in the courtyard or a bad roof, you can turn your attention to the things that really matter — the students,” Parrinello said. “Now we can look to work on new programs and activities going into next year.”
Phase four of the bond project is expected to start next year. Those plans include a redesign of Shoreham-Wading River High School’s parking lot and traffic circle. The district still has to finalize the draft for the plans and get state approval, before receiving bids from potential construction companies.