At the last Glen Cove Board of Education meeting, the board and administration went over this year's proposed budget and held a question-and-answer session with residents and students that went well into the night, with many asking for alternatives to staff cuts. Amidst this, Superintendent Dr. Laurence Aronstein also announced that the board decided to put up another, smaller, referendum for a bond in the amount of $3.46 million.
Dr. Aronstein said that this time the vote will be held during the regular budget vote and trustee election on May 19.
The decision to try to float another bond came after the Glen Cove Board of Education hosted a special public presentation and debate regarding the issue, where independent consultants presented the repairs needed on several school roofs and boilers, and the board took suggestions from the public on other possible improvements and bond numbers.
The board worked hard at a long question and answer session to elicit from the public what number the voters in Glen Cove might be comfortable with and which repairs they could agree were most pressing.
Several roofs and boilers were shown to be in what most agreed was dire condition, leading a resident to say, "This is worse than I even thought. Is there a plan if [the school does not get the funds for repairs in the regular budget or bond]? How do you get the kids out if the boiler or roof goes?"
The superintendent replied, "What are you going to do with the kids? What can I say, I am not trying to alarm you, but it's a disaster."
He explained that the school would declare an emergency and make a plan to deal with the situation. Assistant Superintendent for Business Kevin Wurtz said that there was a past boiler failure and the school rented a boiler, which was outside the school. Trailers with hoses attached to them kept the schools running.
On the issue of getting necessary work done, Zefy Christopoulos said, "We have to do the work now. We are in this predicament because since 1987 we have put off essential projects. The gym is leaking and it is unacceptable and we can't wait two years. Boards for 20 years have not done repairs."
In response to repeated questions on what should be included in a bond, a resident said that she thought it was important for the voting public to see a finished product.
"They need to see something completed. Pick something and finish it and then show that you did it. Nobody believes you. That is the bottom line. Realtors don't know what to say anymore. With no schools this will become a ghost town," she warned.
Rick Smith said that the board should present the smallest possible bond on the most necessary work or it would be voted down.
"Pick your battles. Don't do millions at a time," he said when Joel Sunshine of the board asked him for a specific number.
Dr. Aronstein joked that he and Mr. Smith had the same strategy, to do a number of small bonds over a number of years, to, "...take smaller bites."
More information is to follow on the specifics of the much-deliberated new bond.