Lynbrook School District officials are looking into ways to alleviate increasing overcrowding at Marion Street Elementary School, which, they said, is only expected to get worse as more people move into the neighborhood.
“The Facilities Committee and full board are very aware of the issue and [will] continue to monitor enrollment trends in all the schools,” Dr. Paul Lynch, the district’s assistant superintendent for finance operations and information systems, wrote in an email to the Herald. “. . . The issue must be looked at holistically from a full-district perspective.”
There are 448 students enrolled at Marion Street, and Lynch said he expected 24 more to attend the school in 2019-20. Marion Street is at 74.6 percent of its functional capacity — the number of students who can reasonably be accommodated by the building. The calculation accounts for the school’s purposes and the square footage of its classrooms, corridors, stairwells and exits.
Eileen Linzer, who has children enrolled at the school, said that the fourth grade currently has 98 students divided among four classrooms. “We’re really, really, really pushing the envelope potentially this year, but certainly for years going forward,” Linzer told the Board of Education last October.
Ivy Reilly, who also has children at the school, questioned teachers’ ability to handle such large classes. “Some of the classrooms are very small, and to have a lot of kids in a classroom could be difficult for teachers,” Reilly said. “It’s a matter of being able to walk through the classroom and keep class sizes small.”
The district moved two special-education classes from Marion Street to Waverly Park Elementary School, which, Lynch said, had more space to accommodate the students. Voters also approved Lynbrook’s $88 million budget plan on May 21, which included funds to increase the size of classrooms.
The district’s Facilities Committee has been researching how to best accommodate the rising number of students, according to Lynch. Committee members, he said, looked into purchasing or leasing a portable classroom and creating an extension to the building to increase its size. But, he noted, “Both these options would require approval by the State Education Department, and would thus be unable to come to fruition until a much later date.”
Another solution committee members are considering is rezoning the district. At the May 8 Board of Education meeting, Trustee Lesli Denino, who is the committee chairwoman, shared a study by the Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services showing that the majority of houses that have been sold in the district over the past five years were zoned for Marion Street, and Trustee Robert Paskoff said that the committee was studying the effects of rezoning the district on a house-by-house basis.
That may not be “quick fix” either, Board President William Belmont said. “Studies of other rezoning that’s taken place show that you think you have a resolution, and all you’ve done is kicked the can down the road,” he said, explaining that rezoning could lead to crowding at other schools.
Still, district officials said they would continue to research possible solutions to the problem before it becomes a bigger issue. “We are very concerned about it,” Paskoff said, “and we are addressing it, but it’s a process.”