The East Rockaway district will pay the Baldwin district just over $48,000 per month for use of the two schools until Feb. 28. “I am very grateful to the Baldwin School District to provide us this space,” Spero said. “This is an incredible opportunity to be here, and we’re very thankful to be here.”
He added that his experience as an administrator has helped him over the past few weeks, despite the unprecedented circumstances. Dina Reilly, an assistant principal at ERHS who is also in her first year with the district, is running things at Milburn. Spero spends his mornings at Shubert, then drives to Milburn in the afternoons, leaving Assistant Principal James DeTommaso in charge. There are just under 200 students at Milburn and a little more than 400 at Shubert.
Because some faculty members normally teach students in a wide range of grade levels, dividing the student body into two groups complicates things. Some teachers travel back and forth between buildings, but the schedule had to be overhauled in order for them to do so. The toughest part of the process, Spero said, was redoing the master schedule in a week — a process that normally takes months each summer.
Lindsay Dower, a senior at ERHS and the student council president, said that the change of schools is upsetting, but she manages to look on the bright side. “It’s going to take a little time to get used to,” Dower said, “but I think it’s better that we’re all together, as opposed to splitting up into different schools, because we have that sense of community here.”
One aspect of Dower’s new school experience that she described as “rough” is the way she and her classmates are bused to school. Students who live north of Main Street are picked up at the ERHS oval each morning at 6:45 a.m., while those who live south of Main Street gather at the Rhame Avenue Elementary School parking lot. The district is also providing transportation to those students with special circumstances, including several who were displaced from their homes and are temporarily living outside the East Rockaway district.