By Arielle Dollinger
Making official an arrangement that has been months in the making, the Half Hollow Hills Central School District has leased part of Chestnut Hill Elementary School – one of two Half Hollow Hills schools closed at the end of the 2013-2014 school year – to another school.
The school, Alternatives for Children, is a Melville-based nonprofit private school that caters to the specific needs of children with and without special needs.
“Their mission is very much aligned with ours as an educational institution, so the partnership is a good one,” said Anne Marie Marrone Caliendo, Half Hollow Hills assistant superintendent for finance and facilities. “It’s symbiotic; it’s very much in line with what we do, over the course of our every day.”
Alternatives for Children approached the school district months ago, she said. The institution’s executive director, Marie E. Ficano, said the location was one determining factor.
“We service both Nassau and Suffolk county, so it [Chestnut Hill] is geographically certainly desirable,” Ficano said. “It’s easy access for families from all over.”
And, she said, the school did not require the renovations that other prospective locations would have because it operated as a school until June.
“It’s already set up as a school, so it’s perfect for what it is we do,” she said.
So as not to disrupt the services provided to children, Ficano said, Alternatives for Children will move its facilities from Melville to the Dix Hills location in September, following “natural school breaks.”
According to the lease agreement, published on the school district’s website, Alternatives for Children will have the use of 11 classrooms. The institution can request up to six additional classrooms 30 days before the first day of the month during which it wants to use them.
Also available for use by the 26-year-old institution are the principal’s and nurse’s offices, restrooms, storage areas and a play area. Parking will be available on the grounds.
The agreement states that the district will not lease remaining building space to anyone providing the same sort of services as Alternatives for Children does. These services include “traditional private day care or nursery school serving children from birth through five years of age,” special education services or programs for preschool-aged children with certain “handicapping conditions,” a “universal pre-kindergarten program” or an early intervention program for children under the age of 3.
To hold events, Alternatives for Children will need permission from the district.
The district has not yet leased the other closed elementary school, Forest Park, but hopes to, Caliendo said. Both schools were closed due to declining enrollment.