Written by Matthew Ern Thursday, 14 November 2013 00:00
Financial and high school renovation talks dominated the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Board of Education on Monday, Nov.4. Auditor Chuck Scheid delivered a report of the district’s finances. He assessed that the district was in “a strong fiscal position well above the state average.”
“I’m proud to announce that this is the second year in a row we have no recommendations and I think that’s a testament to the board,” Scheid said. “You guys have really set the bar for the other districts.” He also commended the strategic use of BOCES funds in the district.
Claims auditor Lauren Agunzo made a follow-up presentation and took note of the cooperative nature of the administration and staff.
Sewanhaka Central High School District Superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie spoke on an upcoming bond referendum vote set for Dec. 4. The referendum will allow Sewanhaka to incur debt to pay for potential renovations to the district’s five schools, totaling $99.5 million.
If approved, all five district high school buildings would see considerable renovations including technology, security, roofing and athletic field upgrades. This would include repairs to the schools’ roofs and upgrades to their athletic fields, among other things.
The state would pay for 40 percent of the total cost, and projected tax impact on the community would be layered a over the next 3-4 years. The average tax levy increase throughout the district would be around $144.26 per household.
The renovations to New Hyde Park Memorial High School would include a climate controlled auditorium, renovated orchestra, fitness, and science rooms, new synthetic athletic fields, security upgrades, replacing the flaking gymnasium ceiling and a repaved parking lot.
The proposed plan calls for $14.37 million in upgrades at the high school. About $1.9 million would be allocated toward roof construction, while athletic field updates would cost $4.37 million.
Should the referendum pass, construction on the roofs and athletic fields would begin as early as next summer.
“Students come up to me and ask whether or not they’ll actually get to see any of these changes, use any of these new facilities,” Ferrie said. “ Well, the current tenth or 11th-graders should see these projects finished.”
Window renovation in New Hyde Park has already begun from capital improvement funds in the budget, but is not eligible for aid. The rest of the work would tentatively begin in 2015.
“We decided that we would startn[at New Hyde Park] as the test site,” he said. “The [runners] track at New Hyde Park and Elmont [Memorial High School] have already been resurfaced. So they won’t be redone.”
The night’s agenda also included some brief comments on the board’s stance on high stakes testing, which they’ve viewed as on ongoing issue in the field of education in terms of evaluating both students and their teachers. The board has passed two resolutions calling on congress, Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Education Commissioner John King, state legislature and the Board of Regents to reexamine some of these standardized testing methods so that they may better serve the children and reflect a broad range of learning.
Students from the district’s four elementary schools presenting ‘thank you’ gifts to the board for all their hard work, before talks turned to an audit report.
The gifts ranged from New Hyde Park Road School students lining up to announce they raised enough money to donate $100 to the Wounded Warrior Project, to Manor Oaks School kids showing the board a series of short video clips highlighting the different special programs utilized at the school including science lab, math enrichment, library, and odyssey.