Syosset Board Of Education Explores Pros And Cons Of Having Two High Schools


At the Aug. 28 Syosset Central School District Board of Education meeting, there was a presentation on the pros and cons of having two high schools.
Superintendent Dr. Thomas Rogers said that at the previous meeting, he had been asked about the pros and cons of having two high schools, prompting a meeting between administrators over research behind small schools.
“We looked closely at our own academic program and we tried to bundle our thoughts into some categories,” Dr. Rogers said. “The thing we care about most is academics and we also care about our athletics programs; the activities our students have and the cost of any initiative we would do.”
For academics, some benefits of having smaller schools are creating a smaller school environment that may benefit some students. Disadvantages would be a narrowing of course offerings and duplicated programs.
“If current high school becomes a large middle school, it would be a very large middle school,” the presentation added.
On the athletics side, an advantage would be creating twice as many starting spots on teams like basketball, as well as fewer cuts. But some disadvantages would be less diversity of teams because not all could be duplicated, as well as less likelihood of championship teams and less attention from college programs. There would also be an increase of transportation costs.
“The high school boasts 62 clubs,” Dr. Rogers said. “The wonderful thing about that is there is literally something for everyone. And the challenge would be if you had two high schools, and a fixed amount of stipends you were able to afford, you’d either have to choose to have half the amount of clubs or twice the stipends.”
Having two high schools would also mean diluting the talent in the competition clubs, making them less successful.
“With facilities, we tried to imagine this with the physical plant the high school has and clearly reversing the position of the two middle schools with the high school lends itself as the obvious first consideration,” Dr. Rogers said. “The challenge would be, the high school presently houses four classes of roughly 550 students. If we were to reverse that and put them into the two buildings that only houses three classes worth of the district-wide body, there’s simply not enough space at the middle school. That would mean you would have to build a lot of space at what is currently a middle school, or you would have to think about keeping ninth grade in a middle school building.”
The current middle school buildings also do not have the amenities that the high school building has, like varsity gyms and wet labs.
The administration also looked at a configuration that is known as the “Princeton Plan,” which puts students of the same grades together in a single building.
For Syosset, that would mean sixth and seventh grade at HBT Middle School, eighth and ninth grade at South Woods Middle School and 10th through 12th grade at the high school.
But, the administration concluded that for the district’s size, the disadvantages of this configuration outweighs the benefits.
“We thought the exercise was certainly worthwhile to make sure we weren’t locked in our own thinking or constrained just by the existing facilities that we have,” Dr. Rogers said.

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