Bond Referendum A Bold Move


Sewanhaka looking to revamp each high school

The Sewanhaka Central High School District will put up a $99.5 million bond referendum for voter approval on Wednesday, Dec. 4. If approved, all five district high school buildings would see considerable renovations, including technology, security, roofing and athletic field upgrades. Roughly 40 percent of the bond would come from state aid.

District Superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie said the annual tax levy increase across the entire district resulting from the bond will be $144.26 per household with the increase phased in over the next three to four years. According to Ferrie, the school district has never floated a bond before voters.

“The purpose of why we’re coming out for a bond is because these buildings are old,” he said in an interview with the Floral Park Dispatch. “In order to address the issues and additions needed…the only way is through a bond referendum.”

Floral Park Memorial High School is set to receive $20.8 million in improvements, including $14 million for a new auditorium and $1.5 million to install a running track and regrade the athletic fields.

“Sewanhaka is the oldest school, that requires the most work because of the addition,” Ferrie said. “Floral Park is next because that’s because of the major renovation and addition to the auditorium. Elmont, Carey and New Hyde Park [high schools] are pretty much in the same parameters.”

The proposed plan calls for $14.37 million in upgrades at New Hyde Park Memorial High School. About $1.9 million would be allocated toward roof construction, while athletic field updates would cost $4.37 million. Each school will receive new synthetic sports fields.

New synthetic football, field hockey, soccer, lacrosse and baseball fields would be installed along with fitness room refurbishments and a new gym ceiling. Additional security and technology upgrades and a renovated auditorium would be included in  the plan.

Ferrie noted that window renovations in New Hyde Park have already begun from capital improvement funds in the budget, but New Hde Park is not eligible for state aid.

“We decided that we would start [at New Hyde Park] as the test site,” he said. “The [runners] track at New Hyde Park and Elmont [Memorial High School] have already been resurfaced. So they won’t be redone.”

An ad hoc committee of school district residents formed in October 2012 and  analyzed revamp studies that date back to 2000, according to Ferrie. The committee held building tours and firmed up the proposal up for the December vote.

“It’s a lot of work,” Ferrie said. “There were a lot of people involved.”Sewanhaka High School, built in 1929, would cost $31.2 million in renovations if the plan is approved, according to district officials. The district would move the library from the second to the third floor cafeteria.

An additional wing would be built on the main floor, which would house a new cafeteria and a second gymnasium. The new section would also hold a culinary arts facility.

The current library would become an orchestra/band room. Sewanhaka’s auditorium would be “restored,” according to Ferrie.

The bond also calls for $15.8 million of work at Elmont Memorial High School, including $4.5 million for an additional gymnasium, and $14.9 million of work at H. Frank Carey High School.

The district plans to work on the winter athletic fields and roofs in the spring and summer months. Spring sports fields would be redone in early fall. Ferrie anticipates the project would begin in May 2014, with roofs and field work finishing before school starts. Renovations and additions would not commence until Spring 2015.

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