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Residents of the East Williston School District will be asked to vote in the gymnasium of the Wheatley School on Feb. 3 on a $5 million bond referendum for capital improvements to the district including a new roof for the Wheatley School. The work needed throughout the district originally amounted to $14.8 million, but, according to East Williston School Superintendent Dr. Lorna Lewis, the board of education scaled back the bond referendum in an effort to be sensitive to the economic climate. The bulk of the work, approximately $3 million of the $5 million, is slated for the Wheatley School and the bulk of the work is for a new roof for the Wheatley School, estimated to cost $2.8 million. "We began with a facilities evaluation and it was $15 million worth of work. As the discussions continued, the economic times became even darker," said Dr. Lewis, adding that the work included in the scaled down $5 million is work that is absolutely needed. The $5 million bond referendum will include: For the Wheatley School - a roof, kitchen doors, courtyard doors and replacement of the pair of smoke doors outside Room 413 and the pair of doors outside the Band Room with double egress doors that would operate in the same manner as the existing smoke doors outside the main office. In addition, Rooms 216A, 212A, 206B, 204A and the woodshop adjacent to Rooms 402 and 403 would be made to be mechanically ventilated in accordance with state code. For the Willets Road School - The first floor speech room, the second floor ESL room and Rooms 96 through 99 would be made to be mechanically ventilated in accordance with state code. For the North Side School - Replacement of the windows along the second floor south and west elevation as well as repairing existing masonry in Rooms 309 and 312 and outside the psychologists office. The lower level Reading Room 201, office adjacent to Room 201, OT Room, room adjacent to Room 31, psychologists office, Room 314, speech room and small room off 317 would be made to be mechanically ventilated in accordance with state code. The district estimates that for homes with the average assessed value of $2,785, the estimated annual cost of the bond to the homeowner would be $114.60 per year for the length of the 20-year length of the bond. However, Dr. Lewis explained that this July, the final payment of $464,906 on the 1990 bond would be paid. If the upcoming bond were to be approved, the first payment of $405,760 will be made in July 2010. "The 1990 bond is going to be retired. The payment for that bond will disappear and we will replace it with a lesser payment. They [the taxpayers] would be paying less than they are currently paying. But, of course, the criticism might be if they didn't have anything, they would have a decrease in taxes. But you have a roof and just as when you have a home, you have to take care of the roof," she said. If the bond referendum were to fail, the board would fund the new roof for the Wheatley School in its 2009-2010 budget. However, the board felt spreading the cost of the work out over 20 years would be more cost-effective for taxpayers. The vote will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 3 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Wheatley School gymnasium. Information on the bond referendum can be found on the district's website at www.ewsdonline.org.

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