The Lawrence School District 15 Board of Education has awarded an $8.5 million contract to sell the vacant Number Six School to the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach (HALB), and it set a March 31 referendum for voters to approve the transaction.
Under the contract, HALB will pay $8.5 million in cash and issue a $2.7 million note with the school district to ensure that Lawrence realizes annual savings on transportation, public health and welfare, and special-education costs for HALB students.
“This purchase agreement is a win-win for the Woodmere–Five Towns community and for our students,” said HALB board president Lance Hirt. He explained that the school acquisition would safeguard the character of the nearby, family-oriented residential neighborhood; help the Lawrence School Board to stabilize local property taxes; generate millions of dollars in cost savings for the district for years to come on transportation, special education, public health and welfare, and out-of-district reimbursements; and represent a multimillion-dollar investment in the Woodmere–Five Towns community that will boost the local economy.
HALB plans to relocate 800 elementary-school students from Long Beach to Woodmere after it receives approval from the Town of Hempstead to renovate the Number Six School and the work is complete.
Hirt said the renovations are necessary for HALB to make better use of classroom space and public areas; improve energy efficiency with a new roof, new windows, and state-of-the-art heating and air-conditioning systems; and enhance safety with new electrical and plumbing systems that comply with the current building codes.
HALB decided to buy the Number Six School because over 90 percent of its incoming classes are from the Woodmere–Five Towns area, and because the Woodmere building is one-third larger than its Long Beach school and the 6.6-acre Church Avenue property is three times bigger.
“The larger school and its amenities are a significant improvement over our current building in Long Beach. This will enable HALB to offer our students a more robust curriculum and better extracurricular programs,” Hirt said.
“HALB is sensitive to the interests and concerns of the Woodmere community,” said Steven Zuller, a Woodmere resident and HALB’s board vice president. “Our board and executive staff are dedicated to ensuring that HALB is a good neighbor and a reliable community partner. We will work hard to balance the community’s wishes with our students’ needs and with the Town of Hempstead’s zoning requirements to preserve outdoor recreation areas at the Number Six School. Our goal is to create a mutually acceptable plan for community use of school fields and playgrounds when not in school use.” v