“Exciting News: Construction Begins for Our New School Building This Week,” a September 4 news release on the Riverhead Charter School website reads—and Thursday nearly all of the school’s 300 students turned out at the Calverton campus for a groundbreaking ceremony in celebration.
Site preparation actually began last month after final approvals for the new $14.1 million building were completed over the Labor Day weekend and contractors began clearing ground and modifying the flow of traffic around the campus.
The Riverhead Charter School, Suffolk County’s only K-8 charter school, is undertaking the expansion in response to an increasing interest from parents that has resulted in the need for an admission lottery in the school year 2013/14.
Last year, Raymond Ankrum, the school’s executive director and president, explained that the school did not have a cafeteria, an auditorium or a gymnasium and that a new facility would serve all of those needs.
Now, according to Wilk Marketing Communications, the new, two-story 50,000-square-foot building will include 18 classrooms, a gymnasium/auditorium, library, and music, art, and science rooms.
Officials hope the facility will be ready for use next fall when the school’s 15 seventh-grade students will comprise the first eighth-grade class and two kindergarten classes will expand to three.
"We're expanding from the bottom," explained Ankrum in a Newsday article.
Under current conditions, students at the school move between two buildings; but once construction is completed, all students will be in the same building.
"We're very happy," Ankrum said. "We won't have to migrate between two buildings."
Construction will include a mix of on-site and prefab modular construction. General contractor, Stalco Construction of Islandia, said using modules will cut construction time by up to 30 percent. A parking lot for 110 cars is also included in the construction design.
Other members of the project team include: SCC Construction Management; BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers and DeLuxe Building Systems.
The Riverhead Charter School opened in 2001, and currently has students from 14 different school districts. Eventually, school officials hope to have 500 students as interest in enrollment continues to increase.
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Photo Courtesy of Peter Wilk/Wilk Marketing Communications