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Merrick schools undergo exciting upgrades


Funded by a capital bond approved by voters in December 2016, the Merrick School District continues to make significant renovations and upgrades at Chatterton, Birch and Levy Lakeside Elementary Schools.

Merrick School District Superintendent Dr. Dominick Palma said Chatterton’s first building addition in decades — which took two years to complete — would be ready in time for the start of the 2020-2021 academic year. He added that staff and students at all three schools will also be able to enjoy new air conditioning systems if in-person instruction resumes.

“The air conditioning was ready to go at all three schools this spring,” Palma said. “Since the buildings were empty due to the pandemic, we used May and June to troubleshoot the systems to make sure everything [was] working efficiently. We also revamped the heating in all three schools.”

The new HVAC systems, which cover approximately 100 instructional spaces districtwide, will provide a ventilation boost, as well, Palma said.

While schools were closed starting March 16, construction work was exempt from the Covid-19 pause and continued in accordance with safety guidelines established by New York state. The work on Chatterton’s approximate 5,000 square-foot addition, which includes a large multipurpose room that will be used for speech, reading and math programs, assemblies and some physical education activities, began in 2019.

“Site work at Chatterton is complete, and we’ve requested a certificate of occupancy from the state education department for the addition,” Palma said. “We have photos posted on our website (www.merrick.k12.ny.us), and are receiving positive response. Everyone seems very happy about it.”

Chatterton’s classroom and hallway bathrooms are also being renovated, but Palma said the same work planned for Birch and Lakeside has been postponed until next summer.

Exterior work at Birch and Lakeside, which Palma said “dates back to as far as anyone can remember,” includes new asphalt and sidewalks. Demolition at both sites began in late June, and the finishing touches are expected to be in place by Labor Day. The parking areas are also being redesigned to improve traffic flow during arrival and dismissal. “We could see a lot more parents and guardians dropping off kids at school,” Palma noted.

Districtwide window replacement projects, including the installation of operating windows for Lakeside’s gym and window security film in all first-floor classrooms, is also underway. Palma said there is no target date for completion of those upgrades.