Written by Matthew Ern Thursday, 01 May 2014 00:00
The upcoming bond referendum vote in the Sewanhaka Central High School District has dominated school board meetings since the district announced a second plan to renovate its five buildings. The new $86.61 million bond will be used for renovations and infrastructure projects in the district’s five high schools and up for vote on May 20. The district tried to float a $99.5 million bond, which failed before voters last December by 293 tallies.
At the April 22 board meeting, New Hyde Park resident Christine Grincato asked if the board would be providing a line-item budget for the newly revised bond.
“How much would go for the roof? How much would go for the auditorium? I don’t see that information online or in the presentation,” she said. “I think that’s really important for people to see where the money is going to go.”
According to Girincato, the only information available breaks down the district budget by school but not by the various projects that have been proposed. The board promised to make a more detailed budget available online to the community.
There will be a budget hearing on May 6 in preparation for the next bond referendum vote on May 20.
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.
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 Sewanhaka $2.3 million.
Sewanhaka has solicited proposals on performance energy contracts, which would let companies 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 and increase building aid from the state.
The district is currently reviewing bids for those contracts.
Parent Evelyn Ferguson addressed the board asking about the transitional program at H. Frank Carey High School. The program helps students ease back into regular schooling after spending time in a hospital or other treatment facility. Counselors are provided through the program for students dealing with mental health issues but Ferguson is concerned that none of the building’s assistant principals possess psychology degrees.
Ferguson’s questions about the transitional program segued into her main concern—that one of Carey’s assistant principals is being transferred to Floral Park Memorial High School. Ferguson says that John Kenny, assistant principal for grades 8 and 11, is going to be transferred, reducing the number of assistant principals at Carey to two. The board would not comment on the rumor.
“We don’t discuss particular personnel issues in public,” said Superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie.
Other mothers at the meeting shared Ferguson’s concerns that only two assistant principals will not be sufficient to oversee the large student body. They are confident that the transfer will go through and are frustrated by the Board’s refusal to discuss the issue with them.
“They won’t confirm or deny it. The silence speaks volumes,” Ferguson says.
While the board would not discuss the employee in question, they did confirm that a transfer would be occurring, although it could be any of the three assistant principals.
The next regularly scheduled board meeting is May 27.