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Sewanhaka Bond Set For May Vote

The Sewanhaka Central High School District will have another bond referendum vote on May 20, the same day as the school budget, to save on voting costs.

 

The school board selected a $86.61 million bond proposal last week. If upheld by voters next month, the plan will contribute significant upgrades and renovations to the district’s five schools and two vocational buildings. The plan is a slightly smaller version of

the proposal residents voted down last December.

 

If the bond were to fail again, district officials say, Sewanhaka would face possible program and staff cuts. Important capital projects would need to be put into the operating budget.

 

“In a tax levy cap world, you’re already facing possible cuts,” board president Dave Fowler said. “In my view, it’s part of the educational cannibalism going on. We’re feeding on ourselves and [with the tax levy] this is a reality we face.”

 

Athletic field work for the entire district totals about $16 million, according to district officials. The proposal reduces gym additions at all the schools except Elmont Memorial High School, which is set to receive a $2 million upgrade. The proposal pares down field work at New Hyde Park Memorial High School, but will still include synthetic turf for football and field hockey fields.

 

“Athletic facilities will still be sodded and irrigated appropriately throughout the district,” District Superintendent Ralph Ferrie said. “There are three tracks that have to be patched, fields leveled and tennis courts repaired. The New Hyde
Park gym ceiling project will be completed within the capital projects of next year’s budget, not in the bond.”

 

All auditoriums will receive upgrades but not air conditioning. The outside seating areas at H. Frank Carey High School originally proposed were eliminated and a new elevator will be included. Sewanhaka will still receive a new, albeit smaller, cafeteria addition, saving the district $2.3 million.

 

“The time is now,” said Fowler. “[We need] to get as much of our capital needs meet as possible.”

 

Fowler said the upgrades are necessary for the health and welfare of students. “We just simply can’t keep with the things that are necessary for them,” he said. “

 

New Hyde Park resident Christine Grincato was concerned by the interest that will accrue on the bond and potential tax increases that will take effect if it’s approved. The December bond would have raised taxes $144.26 per household.

 

“We need to see the numbers [for the new bond],” said Grincato. “I want to know how much this is going to cost.”

 

The previous bond’s interest rate was 3.25 percent, with a .25 percent escalation each year, according to Ferrie. He did not know the possible tax increase as of last week.

 

“All of the money could not be borrowed the first year [with the last bond],” said Ferrie. “In New York, you can’t borrow money until you’re prepared to do the work.”

 

The projects would be carried out over a period of three to four years. About 47 percent of the debt issued would be paid through New York State building aid. 

 

But some residents have philosophical objections to parts of the spending plan, even if state money pays for a portion of it. 

 

“If this bond issue is about repair to the buildings, why does the school board continue to include massive amounts of money for athletics facilities and the remodeling of school auditoriums, plus many unnecessary renovations?” said Floral Park resident Milton Brush.

“The option [selected] goes beyond the means taxpayers can afford.”

 

For additional cost mitigation, Sewanhaka has solicited proposals for performance energy contracts, which would let service providers evaluate building lighting, windows, roofs, heating, ventilating and air condition systems, etc. for renovation. Any savings would decrease any bond option’s amount by an estimated $10 million, according to the district, and increase building aid from the state.

 

The district is currently reviewing bids for those contracts. 

News

15 Below, an alternative rock band composed of Sewanhaka High School students, rocked the William Gill Theatre in New Hyde Park Village Hall on Wednesday, July 23. The band had the crowd tossing up beach balls to energetic beats and swaying their iPhones along to slower tunes. 

 

“They were very good tonight,” said Darren Derick Polanco. “I always come to their shows.”

New Hyde Park Village trustee Donald Barbieri contends helicopters are still flying right over New Hyde Park and other residential parts of the north shore, harming citizens and the town with excessive and unlawful aircraft noise. In spite of what federal law says and in spite of what a federal court says, the noise levels are still an issue.

 

Barbieri drafted a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration, apprising the entity of New Hyde Park’s situation. The FAA did not return calls for comment.


Sports

 Students at Charles Water Karate & Fitness, located at 122 Hillside Avenue in Williston Park recently received belt promotions after successfully completing a series of extensive exams.

 

“Our goal at Charles Water Karate & Fitness is to facilitate mental growth enabling our students to reach their highest potential as human beings,” says Charles Water, owner and director of the school.

“Our studio teaches students how to defend themselves responsibly while instilling self-confidence, self-discipline and respect for others.”

Runners and walkers from New Hyde Park are invited to join in the fun on one of the most unusual 5K courses on Long Island at the Saturday, Aug. 9 Sands Point Sprint.

 

 The run presents the Long Island running community with an opportunity to traverse a unique combination of paved paths and runner-friendly woodland trails at the Sands Point Preserve. 

 

The August 2013 edition of the Sands Point Sprint attracted 313 finishers, including top New Hyde Park finishers Michael Ringel, who scored first in the 11-14 age group and Dave Frisone, who earned first place honors in the 65-69 age group. Race organizers are looking for both Ringel and Frisone, and a host of other New Hyde Park runners, to be back next week.


Calendar

Literary Club - July 30

Boot Camp - August 2

Six Gun Concert - August 3 


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com