Sewanhaka Central High School District residents will go to the polls next Tuesday, May 20 to vote on the proposed $86.6 million bond referendum. If approved, the bond would contribute significant upgrades and renovations to the district’s five schools and two vocational buildings. Forty-seven percent of the bond would be covered by New York State aid.
Taxpayers would need to pay $114 per year. This is the second time the district has floated the bond, which failed last December by 293 votes.
“The long term cost of not doing this is going to be devastating to the school district in that in a tax levy cap world, the reason we need a bond at this point is that we’ve been unable to maintain the buildings as we should,” said school board president Dave Fowler.
Technology infrastructure and security upgrades would take place at all five schools as well as new roofs. New Hyde Park Memorial High School would receive $10.8 million in renovations, including new science and music rooms, renovated parking lots, revamped auditorium as well as door replacements. New wrestling and fitness rooms, guidance offices and a roof are also planned.
“Cautious optimism,” school board trustee Dave Del Santo said of the mood in the district. “We hope the voters understand the necessity of repairs that have to be made at the schools.”
Sewanhaka High School is slated for $28 million in renovations, including a new cafeteria, gymnasium, art rooms and a restored auditorium. It could also receive new locker rooms and a relocated and renovated library.
Floral Park Memorial High School would gain $18.4 million in upgrades and renovations. The school would gain an expanded auditorium and music rooms, new heating and ventilation systems and masonry restorations.
“This bond is primarily about the infrastructure of the district,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ralph Ferrie said. “The roofs, the masonry work, lighting, classroom upgrades…that’s where the primary focus is.”
Elmont Memorial High School’s $14.7 million would include a new full-size gym, renovated art rooms, tennis courts and windows. Other updates include new masonry, parking and driveway areas.
“It would be a shame to not take advantage of the [state aid] that’s available at this time,” said Del Santo. “We only hope the voters understand at the end of the day, the improvements that are at stake.”
H. Frank Carey High School ($12.6 million) needs upgrades to its auditorium, lockers, doors and exit lights. Additional work includes a refinished gym floor, fitness rooms, tennis courts and weight rooms.
The district would also install one synthetic turf field at each high school. Field maintenance and upgrades are also scheduled for the Alva T. Stanforth athletic fields ($1.54 million).
“I believe the reception has been good throughout the communities,” said Fowler. “These are older buildings that are in need of capital improvements.”
If the bond were to fail again, district officials say, Sewanhaka would face possible program and staff cuts. Important capital projects would need to be put into the operating budget.
New Hyde Park resident Christine Grincato has been opposed to the bond options that were presented at recent board meetings, before the district selected next week’s proposed plan.
“There is very little difference between these and the original bond that was offered.” she said recently.