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Elwood Middle School will get a new roof with the passage of Proposition 1 by voters. File photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Elwood school district officials will put a total of $38 million in capital bond projects before residents for approval this November.

Elwood’s board of education voted unanimously Sept. 28  to put forth two propositions for a vote next month. Proposition 1 includes $34.5 million for health and safety improvements across the district. A $3.65 million Proposition 2 would go toward enhancement of the athletic fields.

“Over the course of the next two months, I look forward to as much community participation as possible,” Superintendent Kenneth Bossert said. “We want to provide as much information as possible to residents so that they can make an informed decision at the polls on Nov. 28.”

The first proposition focuses on major projects in each of the four school buildings — Harley Avenue Elementary, Boyd Intermediate School, Elwood Middle School and John H. Glenn High School — including replacing the roofs to fix existing leaks and flooding issues, fixing sidewalk and pavement cracks, renovating cafeterias and auditoriums and including air conditioning in some spaces.

The second, if passed, would allow for enhancements to the district’s athletic facilities including a concession stand for the high school fields with an outdoor bathroom, a synthetic turf field, sidewalks to make the fields compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a new press box and a scoreboard for the varsity baseball field.

The major issue of debate at the Sept. 28 board meeting came down to prioritizing items on the district’s list of alternative projects. The list is a compilation of recommended building renovations and upgrades that may be possible to complete if Proposition 1 is approved by voters, and there are additional funds remaining after the outlined construction is completed.

“The alternative list are all projects that were removed from Proposition 1 in order to bring it down to a level where taxpayers could be comfortable with [the tax increase],” Bossert said.

The district’s original building repair survey had recommended approximately $60 million in needed construction and safety upgrades to the buildings.

Some of the alternative projects the district will put forth to the state which aren’t included in either proposition include a new districtwide satellite clock system for $105,000; a backup generator for the computer systems at $125,000; air conditioning for office areas at $710,000; replacement of heating and ventilation units for $110,000; wall paneling at $170,000; locker room renovations for $625,000 and landscaping a playground for $40,000.

“I would like to see some things that the students will be impacted by moved up to the top of the list,” trustee Heather Mammolito said. “In an ideal world, I’d like to see locker room renovations bumped up and some others, like wall panelling, lower on the list.”

Mammolito’s comments were echoed and supported by other members of the board, who reached an agreement to re-evaluate it before posting it for district residents.

The superintendent stressed that the alternative projects list is highly flexible and “not set in stone”, as the renovations would only be possible if there are surplus funds and, which ones move forward would be dependent on how much of the bond is left.

“Often as is the case with construction, there are unanticipated costs,” Bossert said. “We may have to add projects to our list.”

The alternative projects list must be compiled as it has to be approved by voters and sent to the state, according to Bossert, so that if there are funds leftover after major projects are completed the district would have authorization to do work on these projects.

School officials have plans to host walk-through tours at each of the school buildings prior to the November vote so residents can evaluate first-hand the proposed projects. The dates have yet to be announced.

The Nov. 28 vote will be held from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m at the district’s administrative offices. This a change from the district’s traditional 2 to 10 p.m. polling hours, approved by the school board, in order to offer more hours for working taxpayers to vote and more aligned with general election polling hours.

Elwood Middle School will get a new roof with the passage of Proposition 1 by voters. File photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Elwood school district board of education will weigh putting two proposals before voters this November for a total of $38 million in districtwide repairs and upgrades.

Superintendent Kenneth Bossert presented refined bond propositions Sept. 18 at Elwood Middle School Auditorium in which school officials have continued to gradually shave down and refine their list of desired projects into two propositions.

“We need to make sure to put up a budget that is below the state tax cap and maintains all programs and staffing we offer to our students,” Bossert said. “We see the scope of this, there are projects that are desperate needs that cannot be included in the budget without decimating our instructional program.”

The first proposition is for $34.5 million in capital projects and renovations that takes aim at health and safety issues in the schools. These funds would be used for major projects including the replacement of the roofs in each of the four buildings — Harley Avenue, Boyd Intermediate School, Elwood Middle School, and John H. Glenn High School — due to existing leaks and flooding issues; fixing sidewalk and pavement cracks; renovating cafeterias and auditoriums including air conditioning in some spaces. 

“It is cost prohibitive to add AC to all spaces,” Bossert said. “We would like to have large group gathering spaces that would be air conditioned. There are some very hot days where school is in session and there is not always a place we can bring our students to be cool.”

Several other projects take aim at legal issues required under state law including upgrading facilities to be compliant with the Americans with Disability Act, the latest state codes on fire alarms, drainage improvements and asbestos abatement for future construction.

The proposed Proposition 2, as presented by Bossert, requests $3.72 million for enhancements to the district’s athletic programs.

“The reason it is separate is there was division among opinions in the community,” Bossert said. “Some members of the community were strongly in support of this proposed $3.72 million as something they can afford to invest in, other factions said, ‘We don’t feel that way.’ The board wisely chose to make it a separate proposition.”

Proposition 2 would include a concession stand for the athletic fields with an outdoor bathroom, a synthetic turf field and sidewalks to make the fields ADA compliant, a new press box and scoreboard for the varsity baseball field.

The superintendent said if the board of education votes to move forward Sept. 28, the residents will cast their ballots on Nov. 28. The average estimated cost to taxpayers for Proposition 1 is $221 per year, or $18.32, for a home with an assessed value of $3,800; and if both propositions pass the average cost would be $333 per year for a home with an assessed value of $3,800.

Bossert stressed to residents that Proposition 2 for athletic enhancements can only be passed if Proposition 1 for districtwide repairs is approved by voters.

A video of the superintendent’s Sept. 17 presentation is available on YouTube and the district’s website. Bossert said the district will also be adding a calculator to its website to allow property owners to insert their home’s tax value to determine what their individual tax increase will be if Proposition 1 is approved, and if both propositions are approved.

“Elwood is not a village, not a town, but it is a school district,” Bossert said. “I believe our community takes good pride in our schools and I want that to be reflected.”

This artistic rendering depicts what Huntington Station may look like once revitalized. Photo from Renaissance Downtowns

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Efforts to revitalize the southern portion of Huntington Station received a much-needed push forward last week.

Huntington Town Board members voted to approve spending $1.25 million in bond funds received from the Suffolk County Legislature to conduct an extensive sewer study as part of the Huntington Station
revitalization efforts.

The lack of sewers in Huntington Station is one of the areas that is desperately in need of improvement to make revitalization possible, as the land north of the Long Island Rail Road tracks in Huntington Station is served by the sewer district, but the south side is not, which has limited development and economic opportunities.

“It is the hurdle that prevents development from occurring,” said Ryan Porter, the director of planning and development with Renaissance Downtowns. “It prevents this project from being implemented on the south side.”

Renaissance Downtowns is a nationally-renowned development group chosen by the town to be a master developer of Huntington Station’s revitalization in 2012. Porter said due to the lack of sewer access in the south, the town has been forced to pursue a “dual track” when approaching revitalization efforts. Construction of a mix-used  building at the intersection of Northridge Street and New York Avenue was started this past January while there remain no specific plans yet in place for the south side of town, according to Porter.

The sewer study, which will be conducted by Suffolk County under an inter-municipal agreement, will analyze the existing sewer infrastructure, feasibility and design conditions within Huntington
Station to determine the most efficient way to connect the southern part of the town to existing sewer districts.

The southwest sewer district, which currently serves areas in the Town of Babylon and Town of Islip, currently extends only as north on Route 110 as the Walt Whitman Mall.

Porter said if southern portions of Huntington Station could be hooked into either the southwest sewer district or another system, it would greatly increase the future development potential.

“If an existing building is under performing, [the owner] can only tear down what they have and rebuild the same thing,” Porter said. “There’s very little motivation for people to improve their buildings. If
sewers were available, they could increase the building’s uses which is a financial
justification to rebuild your property.”

Suffolk County has already moved to issue the request for bids from engineering firms interested in undertaking the study.

Huntington Station residents interested in sharing their thoughts and ideas about what they would like to improved or built can visit www.sourcethestation.com. The website contains information on sharing ideas find out about upcoming community meetings.

The high school football field, which currently floods easily during games. Photo from Northport-East Northport School District.

The Northport-East Northport school district is set to roll up their sleeves and get to work, as the community recently voted to approve a nearly $40 million bond to improve infrastructure, athletic and physical education needs, classrooms and more.

Residents voted Feb. 28 overwhelmingly to support the bond, with 2,802 yes votes to 1,025 no votes.

Superintendent Robert Banzer was pleased the community was behind the board in this endeavor.

“I thank all community residents who took the time to vote today and for their support of the referendum,” Banzer said. “Through this support, we will be able to make improvements that will enhance our instructional learning, upgrade our physical education and athletic facilities for students and the greater community, and make needed infrastructure improvements that are long overdue. As we move through the process of finalizing plans and submitting them to the State Education Department for approval, we will continue to keep the community updated on our progress.”

One of the boys bathroom stalls with urinals that no longer work. Photo from Northport-East Northport School District.

The $39.9 million bond has been in the works for more than a year, with committees touring school grounds and facilities to see which areas are in dire need of improvements, meeting with officials and administrators from other districts to see how they’ve tackled upgrades and more. The school board voted to approve the scope of the work in December, and then worked to educate the community on the project with building tours and community forums.

Half of the funds — $19.9 million — will be going towards infrastructure improvement. This includes repairing and replacing asphalt pavement, curbing, sidewalks and masonry; renovating bathrooms; upgrading classroom casework; renovating classroom sinks and counters; replacing windows and some ceiling areas at several buildings; and reconfiguring the south entrance of Northport High School.

The other 50 percent of the bond will be divided for classroom and security enhancements and athletic improvements.

Ten million dollars will go towards renovating three outdated science labs at East Northport Middle School, five at Northport Middle School and 10 at Northport High School; constructing a security vestibule at every school building; upgrading stage rigging and lighting at East Northport Middle School and replacing the auditorium stage floor at Northport High School.

For the first two scopes of work, the majority of the ideas came from the Capital Projects Committee, created in 2016 to review district buildings’ conditions.

For the athletic and physical education improvements, the Athletic Facilities Citizens Advisory Committee, formed in 2015, suggested most of the work.

Projects will include replacing the track and reconstructing the baseball and softball fields at East Northport Middle School; replacing the track and tennis courts at Northport Middle School; and renovating and redesigning the athletic fields at Northport High School, as well as installing a synthetic turf field at the high school’s main stadium and reconstructing the track and reconstructing Sweeney Field with synthetic turf.

According to the board, approximately 90 percent of the projects included in the proposed plan are eligible for New York State building aid at a rate of 28 percent, which would reduce the cost impact to local residents. The cost to the average taxpayer in the school district would be approximately $122 per year. To ease the cost to residents, the board has timed the project so a portion of the new debt created by the plan essentially replaces debt that expires in the near future.

Rocky Point board of education members voice their opinions of the bond. Photo by Giselle Barkley

After Rocky Point school district’s capital projects proposal didn’t pass last year, it was back to the drawing board.

The district presented its revised capital projects proposal on March 7, showing that while the school district is keeping many projects from its previous proposal last year, the Facilities Sub-Committee cut around $4.4 million worth of projects from the previous bond proposal.

The committee, which handles the school district’s bond proposals and revisions, got rid of extra projects like artificial turf for the varsity baseball and softball fields and outside bathrooms, among other projects. However, adding air conditioning to the Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School and Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School cafeterias and installing another means of leaving the Middle School’s nurse’s office, were added to the $16.5 million proposal.

Projects like turf fields and outside bathrooms were removed from the initial bond proposal.
Projects like turf fields and outside bathrooms were removed from the initial bond proposal.

The board of education said the bond is subject to change, as it may add or delete projects before it goes to a vote later this year. The bond will still target repairs and renovations to the district’s facilities, which includes, but isn’t limited to, fixing the ceilings in various areas of the schools, installing light-emitting diode lights, renovating the bathrooms, repaving the asphalt and improving security.

Smaller items like fixing a crack in the Middle School’s masonry were also factored into the bond, but Rocky Point school district Superintendent Michael Ring said this was intentionally added to the capital projects proposal.

“These are unique — unlike other special projects, these could be recipients of state aid because [of] the nature of them,” Ring said. “So if voters are going to consider a bond, it would make sense to put it in there.”

For the past three or four decades, state aid has reimbursed 70.2 percent of the school district’s project costs. This takes some pressure off taxpayers and the school district to fund the project. Ring added that mandatory projects like new security cameras, will go into the school district’s 2016-17 budget if the bond doesn’t pass. If it passes, the average homeowner with an assessed value of $2,600 will pay $74.48 a year in additional taxes over a 15-year period.

According to Rocky Point resident Bruce MacArthur, community involvement is important when it comes to passing a bond.

“We have virtually no participation right now from the community,” MacArthur said during the meeting. “[The] larger issue is how do we get the community more involved to be educated on the projects that are being proposed.”

Around 20 people, including the board of education, attended Monday’s meeting. The board and the sub-committee hope to attract more people for its future bond proposal meetings to get more community input before residents vote in favor or opposition of the bond.

“We all came to a consensus that we have to try to sell it [to residents],” said board of education President Susan Sullivan. “One of the reasons we’re meeting is because we are looking to move on this.”

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The Kings Park community can now expect more than $41 million in capital projects to give facilities within their school district a much needed upgrade. File photo

Kings Park schools are getting a face-lift.

On Tuesday, Dec. 8, community residents approved a capital project bond referendum totaling $41,422,515. The final vote was 1,331 yes, 499 no.

The board of education and Superintendent of Schools Timothy Eagen extended their appreciation to all those who participated in this vote.

“This bond is exactly what our facilities and grounds need to rebuild a foundation of pride in Kings Park,” Eagen said in a statement. “I am very thankful that the community has been so supportive of this project. Our infrastructure is in desperate need of updating.”

The results of the vote demonstrate that community residents value the quality education Kings Park provides to its students and the importance of maintaining and renovating district facilities for the benefit of students, staff and the community.

With the approved project, all six buildings within the district would see building improvements, including roof replacements, bathroom renovations and door and hardware replacements, as well as asphalt and pavement upgrades as necessary.

Plans also call for auditorium upgrades, gymnasium renovations and the creation of a multipurpose athletic field and accompanying concession stand/comfort station at Kings Park High School. Additional high school renovations include upgrading the library to provide for 21st century student research and learning needs and resurfacing and upgrading the high school track.

The full listing of projects can be found on the district’s website, www.kpcsd.k12.ny.us.

“On behalf of the BOE, I thank everyone who voted,” said board President Pam DeFord. “I would also like to thank the entire Facilities Committee and Dr. Eagen for the effort and time they dedicated to this project. From the beginning, taking on this bond project was a community effort. Many community members worked collaboratively to assess the needs of our district, keeping in mind the needs of our students as well as watching the cost factor for all residents. It was wonderful to have the community support the work of the committee. As we start ‘rebuilding our Kings Park pride,’ we should all be reminded of this great community. As you may have heard before, ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ and together, that is exactly what we are doing in our community. ”

The district said that it looks forward to the community’s future involvement as the plans and projects proposed in the approved bond become a reality.

Harborfields Superintendent Diana Todaro. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Harborfields school district residents voted in favor of $11.7 million in districtwide capital improvements while also mowing down a $1.9 million plan to add turf fields.

The proposals were presented to the public in two separate propositions in a referendum vote held on Tuesday. 

Proposition No. 1, the districtwide upgrades, received 1,248 yes votes and 573 no votes, while Proposition No. 2 for the turf garnered 629 yes votes and 1,177 no votes.

In an email, Harborfields Superintendent Diana Todaro thanked the community for voting.

“I also thank all residents who took the time over the course of the past several months to attend our public meetings and offer their input,” Todaro said in a statement. “We will continue to update the community on the progress of the capital improvement work that was approved.”

The first proposition involves approximately $11.7 million in upgrades to all school buildings in the district. These upgrades include infrastructure repairs, classroom reorganization and athletic facilities improvements, according to a district statement.

This bond contains work to renovate bathrooms and replace damaged doors. It will also upgrade some science labs and completely transform the wellness center into a multimedia production computer lab with a new, bigger wellness center reconfigured in other rooms.

Specifically for the high school, the auditorium and gym will be upgraded and certain athletic fields will be reconstructed with natural grass. Permanent visitor bleachers will be added to the football field and the locker rooms will be renovated and reconfigured.

At Oldfield Middle School, the science labs and family and consumer science room will be renovated as well as athletic fields and tennis courts. The locker rooms will also be reconfigured and renovated. Certain bathrooms in the school will be upgraded and an outside masonry would be appointed. The gymnasium floor will be refinished and the bleachers replaced. The lighting systems in the school’s auditorium will also be upgraded.

At Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School, upgrades will include the installation of a new gym floor, replacement of curtains and risers in the multipurpose room, renovation of student bathroom and the creation of a multi-sensory learning lab. Outdated playground equipment will be replaced and the western parking area would be renovated and drainage improved.

Also, Washington Drive Primary School’s parking area will be expanded.

The second proposition for turf fields was dependent on the approval of the first and would have included a transition to a synthetic turf field at the high school and using an alternative fill, such as Nike infill, instead of crumb rubber.

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Rocky Point Board of Education members announce the results for the bond. Photo by Giselle Barkley

After much anticipation, the Rocky Point Board of Education members revealed the results for the school district’s $20.4 million maintenance bond after voting took place on Monday, and the results were less than impressive.

The bond’s $17,478,513 Proposition 1 received 396 votes in opposition and 320 votes in favor. Proposition 2 was also defeated, 465 to 233 votes.

The bond aimed to target repairs and renovations to the facilities, as well as health and safety projects. Proposition 1 focused on major projects, like bathroom repairs, upkeep, or additions, like outdoor bathrooms; fixing boilers; lighting ceilings; air conditioning; and locker room renovations, among other projects. Proposition 2 dealt with what some residents perceived as minor projects. This included funding items like artificial grass.

Less than 1,000 residents went to the Rocky Point High School gymnasium and voted on the bond. Wendy Guthy, of Rocky Point, whose third child recently graduated from the high school, was one of many residents who voted against the bond.

“There are things that the community doesn’t feel is necessary based on what [the Board of Education] told us two years ago,” Guthy said.

She said the board informed residents that the institution was in good standing in 2013. Guthy also added her thoughts on some renovations she found unnecessary, like repairs to the turf on the athletic field. Other residents shared Guthy’s same opinion regarding the bond’s minor projects. Rocky Point resident Judy Stringer said the bond’s propositions had “too much fluff and too many wants…instead of needs.”

“All those extra bathrooms and turf is not needed,” Stringer said in a phone interview. “Things that should be taken care of [are] the high school bathrooms and the Frank J. Carasiti bathrooms. Those things are important and necessary for the children.”

While Guthy said no to the renovations, it is not because she wants to deprive students of the renovations, but thinks about the pressure it would put on parents’ wallets.

“It’s difficult to say, ‘No,’ to the kids,” Guthy said. “But you have to be budget-minded too.”

According to the board’s newsletter regarding the bond, the state would have funded the majority of the bond, which requires taxpayer dollars. Despite this, the board’s newsletter claimed that Rocky Point taxpayers would pay less than $8 monthly to fund the propositions. Residents would have experienced a total tax impact of $92.35 if the bond was passed. Even if Proposition 2 passed, the approval of the entire bond would depend on whether the first proposition passed.

One resident, who did not want to give her name directly after voting, said she felt bad voting in opposition of the bond but she “wanted to send a message, that [the Rocky Point Board of Education]…shouldn’t tack on those extra things.” While this resident admitted that a new heating system was in order among other necessities, she said minor projects deterred her from voting for the bill. At the time, she believed the bond would pass.

During the Aug. 31 Board of Education meeting, some individuals from the New York State United Teachers School Related Professionals Association gathered to voice their opinions regarding teaching assistants versus teaching aides, and added that they would not vote in favor of the bond if the board were to eliminate teaching aide positions. Jessica Ward’s position as a teaching aide was eliminated during that meeting.

Many of these individuals attended the Monday meeting.

Rocky Point BOE President Susan Sullivan said the board tried to address the needs of the school and was disappointed with Monday night’s results on the bond.

“As elected representatives of our community, the Board of Education worked to present a bond that struck a balance between the infrastructural needs of our buildings and repairs that would preserve the integrity of our schools in a financially responsible manner,” Sullivan said in an email. “It is disappointing that the proposal presented did not garner the support of our community. We are committed to continuing to provide our students and staff with a safe and secure learning environment and will work together with our community to discuss ways to properly support our educational facilities.”

Despite the results, Superintendent of Schools for Rocky Point school district, Michael Ring, still appreciated residents’ participation with the bond.

“The district thanks the public for their participation in the bond vote,” Ring said in an email. “Moving forward, the district will continue to review its facilities’ needs in order to determine actions that may be necessary to sustain the integrity and maintenance of our buildings and grounds.”

Harborfields High School. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

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.

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