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Capital improvements

Huntington High School. File Photo

Huntington school district taxpayers will be asked to vote three times when they head to the polls May 15.

Huntington’s board of education unanimously adopted its proposed $129,812,991 budget for the 2018-19 school year at its April 19 meeting. The board members also elected to put two additional measures asking for the release of reserve funds to tackle various capital projects and repairs needed in the district’s eight buildings.

“I do believe the budget we are discussing this evening does not short change any educational programs,” Superintendent James Polansky said at the April 19 meeting. “We’ve been very responsible in terms of how we put our budget together and taking into account the taxpayer burden the way we do.”


Adopted 2018-19 Budget:
$129,812,911 total
2.85 percent budget-to-budget increase
2.68 tax levy increase
2.68 tax rate increase

If approved, the adopted 2018-19 spending plan would represent a budget-to-budget increase of 2.85 percent, or approximately $3.6 million more than the current year. The primary costs driving up the budget include the district’s approximately $800,000 increase in contributions to the state’s Teachers’ Retirement System, health care insurance for faculty and staff and rising transportation costs.

Polansky said the district has set aside funds to continue to increase and expand its education programs. Huntington High School will have a computer science course added as well as a virtual enterprise course, a new business elective which simulates an entrepreneurial business for students to run.

“Not many schools have this program yet, Huntington will be one of the first,” Polansky said.

The proposed budget also includes funds to redesign the math curriculum for the mid-level grades and augmenting the elementary school and social studies programs.

State Aid

Since March 26, the district has been able to trim more than $750,000 from its initial draft budget to bring the proposed tax levy intreasse to 2.68 percent. This is largely due to receiving $479,000 more in foundation aid than anticipated after state lawmakers approved the final state budget, according to Polansky, a significant boost from a mere $22,000 expected under the executive budget of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). The board of  education also approved using $155,000 from the district’s early retirement system reserves to offset the tax levy increase.

“It sounds cliché, but a lot of us receive tax bills twice a year and they are not pretty to look at,” the superintendent said. “We are trying to be mindful.”

Proposition #2:  Use $7.1 million from district’s capital reserves for infrastructural improvements

Proposition #3: Create a new Building Improvement Fund in order to be able to use funding from the Repair Reserves to replace the turf field

If the adopted budget is approved by voters, the average Huntington homeowner will see their annual school taxes increase by an estimated $213.69, or approximately $17.81 a month. This is based on the average home having an assessed value of $3,430, in which an assessed value is a dollar value placed on the property by the Town of Huntington solely for the purposes of calculating taxes based on comparable home sales and other factors.

Proposition #2

Proposition 2 will ask Huntington residents to approve the release of about $7 million from the district’s capital reserves fund for critical infrastructure repairs. The list of projects includes the replacement of the roofs at three elementary schools, Flower Hill, Jefferson and Southdown at $1.5 million each; tile replacement in 17 bathrooms at Jefferson and Nathaniel Woodhull School; security vestibules at Flower Hill and Washington primary schools; and replacing two of Woodhull’s boilers. Polansky said the full funding necessary is already available from the district’s reserves and projects cannot be sent to the state for approval, a step needed to begin construction, until the voters approve the funding. If approved by voters, Proposition 2 will have no impact on the tax levy or tax rate.

Proposition #3

Under Proposition 3, the district seeks to create a new building improvement fund. The superintendent said making a new fund is necessary in order to transfer money from the district’s existing repair reserve, which can primarily be used in emergencies, to a newly named capital reserve that will be used for turf field replacement. The district’s turf field is nearing 10 years old, according to Polansky, which is its recommended lifespan. If Proposition 3 is approved, it will also have no impact on the tax levy or tax rate.

A formal budget hearing will be held Monday, May 7, at 7:30 p.m. at Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School auditorium.

The high school football fields may be replaced with turf and capital improvements. File photo

The Northport board of education voted to move forward with improvements to science, athletic, and structural parts of the district Thursday night.

Superintendent Robert Banzer said the major goals of the capital improvements were to replace aging infrastructure and provide students and the community with more useful physical education and athletic facilities.

Infrastructure improvements included replacing bathrooms, windows, and ceilings in classrooms from kindergarten through high school. At the presentation last Thursday night, Banzer went through several photos showing cracked countertops, and antiquated lavatories.

“Some of our buildings are very old and we need to take a cold, hard look at them,” he said.

Tony Resca, a member of the capital projects committee, said the district needed to create state-of-the-art science labs, which would “foster inquiry-based scientific experimentation” and “strengthen overall STEM learning outcomes.”

Changes would include new desks designed to form into lab stations as well as new fume hoods and cabinetry for lab chemicals.

“These lab benches and work desks … are modular, they are moveable and flexible and they can be moved at a moment’s notice to accommodate a wide variety of science-related activities,” Resca said.

Talks for improving the athletic facilities at Northport have been underway for more than a year and projects included better irrigation systems for athletic fields, a new stadium at the high school with a turf field, a new track, a concession stand, outdoor bathrooms, and a replacement of tennis courts.

Paul Klimuszko, director of physical education, athletics and health, and a member of the committee, talked about the importance of replacing certain fields at Northport and improving irrigation at others.

“Whether it rains during the game or days before, this is what the field typically ends up looking like during a game,” Klimuszko said as he pointed to a photo of the high school football team playing in a field covered in mud. He also said that field was heavily used, which diminished its quality and made it less accessible to the greater Northport community.

“Even when the team is out for half-time, the marching band is putting on a half-time show, so that field never gets a break,” he said.

Under Banzer’s suggestion, the district will now seek prices and plans from an architect to achieve the plans listed in capital projects that were voted for in the May budget.

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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.

First of many school improvement plans submitted for review

The Bicycle Path school will be getting a new security vestibule in the near future. File photo by Erika Karp

The Middle Country school district is ready to move forward with several capital improvement projects for some of its 15 schools but is facing obstacles as state approval for the projects could take 34 weeks.

At the April 1 school board meeting, board President Karen Lessler gave an update on the approximate $125 million bond voters approved last November. Currently, the district is looking at roof repair, resurfacing tracks, security upgrades and more.

“The obstacle that we are currently facing is that the type one projects, which are one-shot projects that are not so complex, are taking eight weeks to get through the [New York State Education Department],” Lessler said.

According to the facilities planning division of the state education department, final engineering review will take about 32 to 34 weeks. There are approximately 930 projects awaiting review. According to Saverio Belfiore, of Melville-based H2M architects + engineers, the district’s engineering firm, roof repairs and track resurfacing projects for the high schools have been submitted to the education department.

A representative from the department did not return a request for comment.

Some of the bonded money will be used to replace 4,000 windows district wide. Many windows have not been replaced in more than 20 years, officials previously stated. Window replacement qualifies as a type one project and will be replaced overnight and throughout the summer, according to Lessler.

Security is another high-priority item for the district. Currently, details are being finalized with building principals for security upgrades to each building. According to Belfiore, upgrades to the secured entry vestibule at the prekindergarten centers, Eugene Auer Elementary, North Coleman Road Elementary and Oxhead Road Elementary have been submitted.

Belfiore said many of the district’s projects are type one and should be approved in the shorter time frame, while the other projects should begin this summer.

Putting the obstacles aside, Lessler said everything is moving along.

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Proposals won't be on this year's May ballot

Rocky Point's plant facilities administrator, Chris Malone, listens to a question regarding the proposed capital improvements. Photo by Erika Karp

Meeting cancellations and a growing list of projects proved too much for Rocky Point school board trustees, who decided on Monday not to propose a capital improvements bond this May as they needed more time to sort through specifics of the proposal.

Chris Malone, the district’s plant facilities administrator, along with Larry Galante, a member of the facilities planning subcommittee and district architect John Grillo returned to the Rocky Point High School auditorium Monday night with an updated list of projects that totaled a little more than $20 million.

In January, the men presented a $17 million project list, which included installing new ceilings, windows and LED lighting; redoing bathrooms; upgrading security; installing turf fields and solar panels at the high school; and improving air-conditioning and heating systems, among other items.

Projects such as wrestling room renovations, redesigning the cafeteria at the Joseph A. Edgar school and new bleachers and sports lights at the lower fields were added into Monday’s presentation.

More than an hour into the presentation, and after numerous questions from the audience, school board President Susan Sullivan broke her silence and said if the board wanted the bond on the May ballot, everything would need to be final by Thursday.

“Quite honestly our heads are spinning and it’s not going to happen,” she said.

Later in the evening, the board tabled a State Environmental Quality Review Act resolution regarding the capital improvements. State law mandates SEQRA and governing bodies must approve the determination 45 days prior to a vote.

A few audience members said they were curious about how officials determined what items to include in the proposal. While they said they agreed updates are needed — original lockers, equipment and tiling exists in the schools — they questioned if some projects fell into more of a “wish” category.

Resident Jennifer Intravaia said she was a “little bit sticker shocked” after seeing the updated list.

“I think we need to seriously look at our priorities,” she said.

In response to Intravaia’s comment, Superintendent Michael Ring said it was a good point, and the school board would be reviewing the items, which were included based on feedback from many different individuals in the district.

Monday night’s presentation was delayed by nearly two months, as the school board’s meetings on Feb. 2, which was then rescheduled to March 3, were both cancelled due to snow.

While the board decided to not pitch the bond in May, it could still move to bring the proposal — or another version of it — to a vote in the future. Under the current plan, the bond would be separated into two different proposals: Priority I and Priority II. The latter would only pass if voters approve Priority I.