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Bethpage School District's History

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This information is taken from the booklet, "Bethpage Schools - Proposed Budget 1957-1958"

Bethpage was named by Thomas Powell, an Englishman, in 1695 when he purchased a large area of land in the eastern and central part of Nassau County, Town of Oyster Bay, from the local Indian Tribes.

In the 49 years that have elapsed since a special school meeting was held in 1908 to organize the first Union Free School District in Bethpage, there has been a continual growth in population and proportionately an ever increasing number of school children to be given the benefits of a public school education.

These many years have seen the old one room wooden school house located on the corner of Sycamore Avenue and Broadway disbanded and in its place a new school house on Powell Avenue constructed of brick. This provided a centrally located school for the children of the community. In 1910 when this 4 room structure was first built it housed all grades from Kindergarten through grade eight. This is the front portion of the present Powell Avenue School. Because of the rapid growth of population occurring in the early 20's It was necessary to add to this building and thus 8 rooms were constructed directly back of the original bringing the total to 12 classrooms. During the course of construction a two room wood annex was built which took care of the over crowded school until the addition was finished. In 1923 the new structure was completed and together with the annex has served Bethpage until the present day.

In the late 20's the school enrollment again began to show a rapid increase and plans were made for additional school facilities. These plans were never realized and it wasn't until 1948 that the district was forced, by the ever increasing population, to make plans for a new school. Thus the present Broadway building was constructed and in the spring of 1951 all grades from K to 8, in number 650 children occupied the building. For the few months until June of that year the Powell Avenue school was vacant.

In September 1952, it was necessary to reopen the Powell Avenue School as well as use the Broadway school because Farmingdale could no longer take our High School children, for the first time our 9th year students were being educated in Bethpage.

It was only in January of 1953 that the District voters were called upon to vote for a new Pine Avenue School to be located in the north edge of the district where a very rapid growth in new home construction was being experienced. There were 1424 children in the district and over 1700 were expected in September 1953 and 2007 in 1954.

Construction on the new Pine Avenue School no sooner was under way when plans were made for a large school in the south end of Bethpage. This was the Central Boulevard school which was voted on March 12, 1954. The pupil estimates made for the Pine Avenue school had to be revised upward and it was then found that instead of 1700 children being in school that 2769 were already enrolled and by 1955 that 3594 children would be in Bethpage to attend the school system.

The Central Boulevard school opened in September 1955 and because of an ever increasing high school enrollment, at the Broadway School, it was necessary to use half of the building for the 7th and the 8th grades and the other half for K through 6. Again the people of Bethpage were called upon for more schools and the Kramer Lane Elementary and the Broadway addition were placed before the voters in January 1955. In September 1955 a complete Junior Senior High School program was in operation for the first time and the first graduation took place in June 1956, with 219 graduates.

Both of these new structures were opened in February 1957 and at the present with 4200 children in kindergarten through the Junior Senior High School all the facilities are still being over crowded with the prospects of 4700 children to be given classroom space in 1957-1958.

In order that sites for future needed schools would be available, three additional parcels of land were purchased. One of these on Cherry Avenue is being planned for a new Senior High School. The farthest north parcel is presently in the center of a new housing boom. Plans are therefore being made for a new elementary school for that area.

The school district of Bethpage completely encircles the huge Grumman air field and manufacturing plants. A large residential area west of Grumman has developed which warrants a neighborhood school to care for their elementary children. A site suitable for this purpose is being presented at this annual meeting for the approval of the voters.

In 1955 New York University was engaged to make a complete survey of educational needs of Bethpage. The ever increasing growth of the district had caused previous calculations to fall far short of the actual growth of the district. By the use of scientific methods the survey made an estimate of population until 1970. Some very important facts were brought out, one that the district would have ultimately 5000 dwelling units each housing a possible family group. The peak elementary enrollment in grade K-6 would occur in 1961 with 4,352 children to be accommodated. The Junior High peak year would be in 1966 with 1,850 children in grades 7-8 and 9. In 1969 the senior high grades 10-11-12 would reach a top enrollment of 1,356. The survey also indicated that 6,806 children of school age would ultimately live in the Bethpage School District in 1963 and would therefore require educational facilities sufficient to care for their needs.

Bethpage has been fortunate in the past years to have citizens who have envisioned this growth and who have worked unceasingly to provide rooms for our children. It is evident that the job is not finished by any means and step by step we must provide for the ever increasing number of children that will be with us as we approach the years of maximum enrollment.

Bethpage has been fortunate to have a relatively good balance between business and residential property in order to provide a sound tax base to finance our schools. Today we find not only more houses under construction but also increasing industrial properties being developed, which will continue to provide for future needs.

Every evidence points towards the fact that Bethpage is developing into a well balanced community with homes in various price ranges and industry to provide for local employment of its residents. The schools of Bethpage are ones to be justly proud and with the continued cooperation of all citizens, the educational needs of the children and grownups will be met, and Bethpage will take its well deserved place among the ever increasing number of fine new communities on Long Island.

This information is important as it outlines the sudden expansion of Bethpage and how the community worked to solve the problems while providing for the educational needs of the children.

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