Overcrowding at a Long Island high school has forced the entire class of incoming freshmen to move to a nearby community college.
Westbury High School has 1,700 students enrolled in a building designed to hold about 1,200. The problem was obvious, but the community couldn't agree on a long-term solution -- so school officials decided to move the roughly 340 incoming freshmen to an annex of Nassau Community College, about two and a half miles from the school campus.
"It fit well," said schools superintendent Eudes Budhai. "Our students are in close proximity. So it was the perfect location for us."
State education officials, however, had concerns about the move, and only approved it last week. As a result, on day one of classes, some walls were still without paint and equipment was being moved back and forth.
The move cost taxpayers $1.5 million.
School officials say the ninth graders will have access to everything available at the actual high school. Students said Friday they love their new home.
"Once I got here, it was a better experience than I thought it was going to be," said Loukit Gaillard.
"I think it's a better environment. It's safer, 100 percent safer," said Mark Johnson.
The school district has leased the annex for the entire school year. It's not clear how officials plan to ease crowding beyond that. Budhai says an influx of immigrants over the last several years has caused the student population to swell; the school district is 70 percent Hispanic, he said.