Next week, voters in Harborfields school district will head to the polls to decide yea or nay on two propositions totaling $13.6 million in capital improvements bonds ranging from room renovations, classroom upgrades, a new field at the high school and more.
Residents of the district will vote on the projects from 2 to 9 p.m. at Oldfield Middle School on Tuesday, Oct. 27. There will be two propositions presented for a vote. Proposition No. 1 pitches about $11.7 million in upgrades, encompasses infrastructure repairs, classroom reorganization and athletic facilities improvements, according to a district statement. If approved, bathrooms would be renovated, and damaged doors replaced. Some science labs would also be upgraded. The existing wellness center —which the district’s physical education classes and athletes use — would be transformed into a multimedia production computer lab, and a new, larger wellness center would be built by reconfiguring other rooms.
Also under that proposition, the district would upgrade the high school auditorium and gym. It would reconstruct certain athletic fields with natural grass. Permanent visitor bleachers would be added to the football field, four tennis courts would be renovated and a new wrestling room would be created.
Over at Oldfield Middle School, the science labs and the family and consumer science room would be renovated. Middle school fields and tennis courts would be upgraded and the locker rooms would be reconfigured and renovated.
Certain bathrooms in the school would be upgraded and outside masonry would be repointed. The gymnasium floor would be refinished and the bleachers would be replaced. The lighting system in the school’s auditorium would also be upgraded.
The first proposition also includes improvements for Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School and Washington Drive Primary School.
At the elementary school, upgrades include the installation of a new gym floor, replacement of curtains and risers in the multipurpose room, renovation of student bathrooms and the creation of a multi-sensory learning lab.
Outdated playground equipment would be replaced and the western parking area would be renovated and drainage to that area improved. The parking area would be expanded at the primary school.
Proposition No. 2, valued at about $1.9 million, is dependent on the passage of Proposition No. 1 and would include a transition to a synthetic turf field at the high school and using an alternative fill, such as Nike infill, instead of crumb rubber.
“The proposed capital improvement bond referendum addresses improvements to our instructional spaces and athletic facilities,” Superintendent Diana Todaro said, in an email statement. “The improvements would enhance opportunities for our students and community.”
About two years ago, Harborfields voters rejected plans for synthetic turf, which was the subject of a referendum.
“It is important for the community to understand that Proposition No. 2 is very different from the field proposition that was presented to the community two years ago,” said school board President Dr. Thomas McDonagh in a statement. “The field we are now proposing uses an alternative fill and addresses the concerns that residents had at the time.”
At a public forum earlier this month, residents offered mixed opinions on the propositions.
Many used the phrase “wants versus needs” when describing the difference between the propositions. Some residents said they felt the first represents genuine needs of the district, but Proposition No. 2 includes nothing crucial to the immediate needs of the district.
Chris Kelly, a Greenlawn resident, said he thinks both propositions are important to help Harborfields improve.
“It appears we are long overdue for upgrades,” Kelly said. “I really appreciate all the work that has been done for this and I will definitely be voting for it. The things on these propositions are very important, and I hope that this is just the beginning of a big turning point for this school to reach new heights.”
McDonagh said he supports both propositions.
“I am fully in favor of all the projects contained in proposition one and two,” he said.
The first proposition would carry an increase to taxpayers of approximately $76.20 per year, or $6.35 a month, for a home with an assessed value of $4,000, according to a district statement. The increase for the second proposition would be $13.08, per year if approved.
Victoria Espinoza contributed reporting.