Related Interest

Visit our Board of Education section to read more news










Trustees Look at Reacquisition of Former Toaz Junior High School


The Huntington School Board has authorized obtaining an appraisal of the current market value of the former Robert K. Toaz Junior High School to assess the economic viability of reacquiring the site and expanding the district’s footprint in the community to solve an instructional space shortage crisis.


Since the former Toaz building is already constructed, officials believe it could present an opportunity to acquire space at a significant savings compared to new construction of comparable size, even while allowing for any repairs and renovations needed to convert it back to use as a public school.


Trustees have been discussing a number of options ranging from further additions to Woodhull Intermediate School to the construction of a new building on land the district already owns on Spring Road behind Woodhull to constructing more space at the district’s four primary buildings. Last winter two new classrooms were added to Woodhull at a cost of about $800,000 to help address that school’s shortage of space.


In September the district retained the Uniondale law firm of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, P.C. Trustees approved spending an amount not to exceed $22,500 to assist the district in assessing its ongoing spatial needs. School Board members have now decided to take the next step toward purchasing the former Toaz building, located along Spring Road and Woodhull Road, just east of New York Avenue.


All of the district’s eight schools are running at virtual capacity. Instructional space has been carved out of former storage rooms, closets and stages and parts of cafeterias. The space crunch is being felt most acutely at the elementary level, but both J. Taylor Finley Middle School and Huntington High School are also extremely tight and the situation is expected to further worsen in the coming years.


The district closed Toaz in June 1982 as a result of declining enrollment. The building was almost immediately rented to Touro Law School, which later purchased the structure and surrounding land. There is a restrictive covenant set forth in the deed limiting its use to that of a school and no other purpose.


After Touro opened a new facility in Central Islip in 2007, the law school sold the Huntington building to the Good News Church, which announced plans to open a university. However, the planned college has never been accredited.

Lowest Cost to Taxpayers

By closing the school at a time when it wasn’t needed, the district saved millions of dollars over the past three decades. Now that additional space is needed trustees are looking to add it at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers. If the former Toaz building is reacquired, the district intends to apply for state and federal grants to help offset renovation costs, including any “green energy” initiative funds.


The Huntington School District has eyed the Toaz building off-and-on for several years, viewing it as potentially the most cost effective measure to add needed space. Should the reacquisition create an extra cushion of space (which could be held in reserve as a hedge against further instructional needs), the district is interested in partnering with the town and/or Suffolk County to add a community center for local activities and services.


Trustees have discussed such collaboration at several recent public meetings and Supervisor Frank Petrone expressed the town’s interest during an appearance before the Huntington School Board in October. District officials have recently held a series of meetings with town leaders to discuss this and a number of other issues.


The Huntington School District has been studying its future needs for a number of years, conducting extensive analyses of its enrollment trends and buildings. Officials have stated it is unmistakably clear that additional space is needed.

“Good Old Bones”

The district hired the architectural and engineering firm of Burton, Behrendt, Smith to conduct a facility study of Toaz/Touro more than two years ago. BBS officials presented their findings at an April 2007 School Board meeting.


“It’s got good old bones,” Steve Walsh of BBS told trustees at the meeting. BBS conducted a three-day visual evaluation of the building at the time. Mr. Walsh gave an upbeat assessment of the former Toaz building, saying it represented a “good value,” in an age when new classroom space typically costs between $350-$400 per square foot to construct. Many of the former junior high school classrooms have been converted into offices, but Mr. Walsh said the process of reconverting them back is “cheap to do.” He added, “The hallways are pristine.”


Trustees were repeatedly told at that April 2007 meeting that the building is “structurally sound” and was “well constructed.” Mr. Walsh said at the time that he was confident the State Education Department would favorably evaluate the Toaz/Touro site for reutilization as a public school building housing any combination of students ranging from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Great Depression Era Project

In the depths of the Great Depression, construction began January 8, 1938 on what would later be named Robert K. Toaz Junior High School, in honor of the man who was district superintendent from 1906 to 1932. It was Suffolk’s first junior high school.


The cornerstone for the building was laid May 7, 1938. The school cost $748,957.33 to build, equip and landscape. The John H. Eisele Construction Company served as the general contractor. The federal depression era Public Works Administration footed $336,457.33 of the cost with a school bond issue of $412,500 covering the balance.


Construction of the building was completed in late November 1938, more than four months ahead of the April 15, 1939 contract deadline. Speedy progress was attributed to good weather conditions. Dedication ceremonies were held August 23, 1939 at 8:30 p.m. The capacity of the building was 1,025 students.


A later addition to the building increased capacity by several hundred. The initial registration was about 800. The first day of school was September 5, 1939 with the first bell sounding at 8:30 a.m. Students were dismissed that day at 11 a.m. with regular hours being implemented the next day.


All graphics, photographs, and text appearing on the Huntington Public Schools home page and subsequent official web pages are protected by copyright. Redistribution or commercial use is prohibited without express written permission. Comments or Questions? email the Public Information Office


Back to Top Back to Home