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School Bond Sprouts New Options

The Sewanhaka Central High School District’s ad hoc committee is still reviewing options for a second bond referendum, to be put up for a vote either in May during budget and school board elections or a special election in the fall. The district proposed a $99.5 million bond for various repairs to its five high schools in December, which failed by 293 votes.

Five options are before the ad hoc committee. The first is a vote on the original bond for a second time, with elimination of electronic signs and some capital work. The second and third options would decrease the bond issue, to $84,606,691 in one case or $87,029,591 in another. The fourth option would total $89,577,091. The fifth option is split into two: $73,567,876 in infrastructure repairs, improvements; and a separate $16,009,215 in athletic renovations and upgrades. The School Board will review the options in preparation for a special meeting on Tuesday, March 18.

“We’ve looked at several variations [of bonds],” District Superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie said at an ad hoc meeting on Tuesday, March 4. “We’ve spoken to different people throughout the communities and we’ve taken in information that was shared at the last meeting.”

Sewanhaka has solicited request for proposals on performance energy contracts, which would let companies evaluate building lighting, windows, roofs, HVAC systems, etc. for renovation. Any savings would decrease any bond option’s amount by an estimated  $10 million and increase building aid from New York State, according to Ferrie. He indicated that at least two RFPs have been submitted to Sewanhaka.

“That energy contract holds true to [the first] four options,” said Ferrie.

Option two includes a reduced plan of additions and eliminates improvements at Floral Park Memorial High School and outside seating areas at H. Frank Carey High School.

“We’re in a situation now that none of us in this room created,” Ferrie said. “We’re in such a challenging environment that every decision that we make has an impact on somebody.”

The third option would keep air conditioning and auditorium restorations. Option four would restore the full-size gym at Elmont, three large instruction rooms at Floral Park and the original field design in New Hyde Park.

Option five was first revealed to the committee last Tuesday. This plan would put building and field work before voters as two separate items. That means one could pass without the other. If field work was approved by itself, Sewanhaka would not get state building aid—money the district is counting on.

“In my travels [around the district], no one has said the infrastructure and the additions are not necessary,” Ferrie said. “If you do a two-proposition question like this, it has to be written in a way that proposition two cannot pass unless [one] passes. You can’t have the fields and not have buildings.”

Committee members involved in the athletic departments disagreed about separating the bonds.

“The fields are necessary today. Garden City is outside practicing. Our kids are in the gym practicing baseball,” Sewanhaka High School Athletic Director John Niven said. “I think putting it separate, people will just blow it right off. There is no way people are going to vote for both.”

Jon Johnson, an athletic director from Elmont, echoed Niven, saying a separate proposition gives an “out.”

“It lets them eliminate [the field work],” Johnson said. “It’s not a good idea.”

Craig Barbieri of New Hyde Park favored splitting the bond, stating that passing the infrastructure is imperative.

“I coach a great deal and I believe athletics are important, but I’m in favor of splitting it up for a vote in the fall,” he said. “You have one shot again. If it doesn’t go and you don’t get the infrastructure done, all of that will be thrown into [next year's] budget.”

Committee member Cheryl Scarry said residents would reject the bond after learning that the district is considering eliminating up to 20 teaching positions in the 2014-15 budget.

“You’re talking about possibly losing 20 teachers and that has nothing to do with [the bond], but people don’t know that,” she said. “People are not going to [approve] it.”

Some feel voter turnout—traditionally better at the May budget vote than in September—is the key to a passed bond.

“Historically, you get 90 percent of the people who stay home,” said school parent Mike Fogarty. “You just don’t get a turnout.”

A fall election would be costly, too: another $120,000-$130,000. A majority of the committee favored a May vote.

Jon Johnson felt that it’s crucial to come up with a plan that is strong enough to survive a vote, whether it be in May or the fall.

“You have to take a swing at the plate,” Johnson said. “You can’t stand here now and give options like this and know that it might not even work.” Ferrie admitted a sense of urgency, but warned against a rush to judgment. “Whatever we put up next time, it has to pass,” Ferrie stated.


On Sunday, Aug. 20, Genna Cardalena, 17, of Floral Park, was named Miss Long Island Teen 2015 at the annual pageant held in Patchogue, in conjunction with the Miss Long Island Pageant. Thirty-two women, between the ages of 14 and 26 years old represented towns from across Long Island to compete for the Miss and Teen 2015 titles.

Cardalena told the Floral Park Dispatch, “It’s really surreal; it took me about 24 hours for it to really sink in that I was Miss Long Island Teen 2015.” This is her third competition. Her cousin originally turned her on to pageant competitions. “I entered on a whim and placed in the Top 10 in a 2013 competition in Westchester,” said Cardalena. She then entered the 2014 pageant on Long Island and placed in the top five and also won Miss Congeniality.

Village Trustee Mary Grace-Tomecki updated residents on the road repairs at Beverly Avenue at Tuesday night’s Village Board meeting. The reconstruction of Beverly Avenue which is located between Covert Avenue and Orchid Street began this past week. The contractor for the construction is the Roadwork Ahead Incorporation based out of Westbury.

“Approximately 10 years ago, the greater part of Beverly underwent an overlay. However, at the time, it was deemed that the segment between Covert and Orchid was not a good candidate for an overlay,” said Tomecki. “The crown of this portion of Beverly was much higher than the rest of the street, causing substantial ponding and in turn, drainage issues that could not be resolved by simply applying asphalt to the existing road surface.”


Andy Cooney

Friday, August 22


Saturday, August 23

Sewanhaka Central Board of Education Meeting

Tuesday, August 26


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