District 24, village spar over development

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Iadevaio said that the district can handle an influx of students from Sun Valley Phase I and Hawthorne Court, a 90-unit apartment complex nearing completion on Cottage Street, by moving district offices out of the William L. Buck School and renting space elsewhere. However, he added that a further influx would likely require spending a few million dollars to add classrooms at one or more of the three elementary schools, and he doesn’t want to put that burden on District 24’s taxpayers.

The district’s current enrollment is 1,134 students. Class sizes are between 18 and 25 in kindergarten through third grade, and 25 to 29 in grades 4 through 6. The projected enrollment for next year is 1,079.

Trustee Virginia Clavin-Higgins said that the school board might find an audience that is more receptive to consolidation because of the current financial times, and that it is time to take a “fresh approach” to how educational services are delivered. “If you educate the public,” Clavin-Higgins said, “the public will support you.”

Iadevaio said that consolidation studies were last done in the late 1990s, and showed that there would be no significant savings from merging the four districts into one. Clavin-Higgins said that it could be time for another look.

Vinny Ang, an assistant to the village Board of Trustees and the former village clerk, said that he expects Sun Valley to add few children to the school system. The apartments, he said, will be geared toward working young couples that most likely won’t have children.

Ang also said that the revenue from a second Sun Valley complex would be a boon to the tax base, and would help offset the cost for existing businesses in District 24, which pay among the highest commercial tax rates in Nassau County.

“This is not a concern — the amount of children is going to be offset by the tax revenue,” he said, noting that some District 24 officials were opposed to the development of Hawthorne Court several years ago. “This is the construction the village so badly needs in that downtown business district. Seeing this school district step out and oppose this is a big disappointment.”

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