Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 05 November 2010 00:00
The much-anticipated Mineola School District bond vote finally reached the district’s doorstep last Wednesday. Bond option two, under reconfiguration option three, failed last week after a district vote by 1,765 votes.
The vote took place at the Cross Street School, Hampton Street School, Jackson Avenue School and Meadow Drive School. The final tally saw 2,234 people vote no, while 469 people voted yes.
Meadow Drive saw the biggest difference of yes/no votes. Forty-two voted yes, while 761 voted no. Furthermore, Cross Street saw a yes/no vote of 112/471, Hampton tallied 102/397 and Jackson Avenue came out to 213/605.
“The people have spoken,” Trustee John McGrath said.
The public voted on a bond option that would have seen three schools close. Meadow Drive, Hampton and Cross Street would have closed under this configuration. The Willis Avenue School would have a pre-K-1 model and Jackson Avenue would be a grade two through four institutions. The middle school would’ve held fifth through seventh grade while the high school would use an option one configuration. Under option three, Hampton would’ve been retained for the district’s central office.
“What I have to grapple with is how do I plan for both [bond options],” District Superintendent Michael Nagler said. “I have to now plan for it passing and failing. But at least I’m down to two choices.”
This model saw a full cluster, optimizing staff and class sizes and would showcase three-year transitions for students. According to Nagler and finance committee findings, this was the most cost-effective option in terms of savings.
“We’ll hit the ground running,” he said. “[Voting down the bond] doesn’t help the community’s uncertainty. This just delays the ultimate decision for another three months.”
The district could still pursue bond option one. Nagler said he would present and recommend to the board that it pursue bond option one on Nov. 4. Bond option one would set the district under reconfiguration option two.
This option would see two schools close. Option two sees Hampton and Cross Street close, with a north/south jurisdiction at Meadow Drive (Pre K-2) and Willis Avenue (Pre K-2) respectively.
The middle school would see a sixth through eighth grade model. The high school would be a traditional ninth through twelfth grade configuration.
This configuration keeps the middle school and high school as is and makes Jackson Avenue a three-year transition. But this option would need a bond passed and the numbers in the north/south split would still be an issue.
This configuration would need the first of two parts of the bond passed if the district were to use this model. According to Nagler, this bond is an “if-then proposal.”
One part is put out and voted on and if it passes, a vote is put out for the second part. A second part of a contingent bond cannot be voted on if the first part fails. The total bond cost would reach $6.1 million if both parts were to pass.
“I think it’s time to slow down the process and re-engage the community for the purposes of reaching some consensus on how or whether we should reconfigure the school district,” Trustee Irene Parrino said.
If the first part passes, the Jackson Avenue School would need eight additional classrooms as well as a multipurpose room and a bus loop at $4.4 million. The second part of the bond, if passed by voters, would see the Hampton Street School, with a four classroom addition, replace Willis Avenue as a Pre K-2 South configuration with an additional $1.7 million.
“We want the public to weigh in,” Board Vice President Christine Napolitano said of the next bond option. She said for a lot of people, the placement of the fifth grade and the eighth grade was an issue and in the next bond, those grades don’t move.
“For some people, that was the reason they voted this current one down,” she stated. “The fifth grade and eighth grade stay where they are [in the other bond option]. This next one addresses that. The cluster had to be the first one.”
In the end, as Nagler stated in the past, the district would reconfigure under option one if all bonds fail. Reconfiguration option one also closes two schools.
Reconfiguration option one consists of the closing of the Hampton Street School and Cross Street School with a pre-K-2 south model at the Willis Avenue School and a mirrored model at the Meadow Drive School but with a north jurisdiction. Grades three and four would be at the Jackson Avenue School, with grades five through seven being at the middle school. Mineola High School would have an eighth through twelfth grade model.
No bond would be needed for this configuration and it keeps four grades local and clusters one additional grade. However, the north/south split has been an issue to some residents and the amount of transitions in this model has borne the brunt of parent and resident outcry as well.