In an effort to enhance communications, we will, on a continual basis, use this opportunity to provide answers to "FAQ's" regarding issues related to our schools. We invite you to ask questions by writing to: Office of the Superintendent, Port Washington School District, 100 Campus Drive, Port Washington. Questions can be asked anonymously, and we will answer them in a timely fashion.
Editor's Note: On Jan. 4, the Board of Education approved a long-term facilities plan for the school district. An alternative proposal was presented that night. The Port News asked Dr. Inserra to respond to questions concerning submitting an alternative proposal. Here is his response:
Can We Submit an Alternative Long Term Facilities Proposal?
On Jan. 4, the Board of Education approved a long-term plan for the school district. At that time, a proposal was made to the board that we should prepare, pre-approve and submit an alternative plan to the State Department of Education (SED) as a "back-up" should the bond vote not be successful.
Accordingly, the superintendent's office asked the State Education Department their opinion of submitting two plans. Their official written response is as follows:
"The office of Facilities Planning will only accept and review one long-range plan from the school district. It is my understanding that the long-range plan submitted in December 1999 is the board's current proposal that will be presented to the voters in May 2000. TThe State Environmental Quality process has started for the current proposal. An alternate plan cannot be reviewed simultaneously."
(Charles A. Szuberla, coordinator, Office of Facilities, Management and Information Services, the State Education Department, Albany, New York, Jan. 14.).
The State Education Department can only respond to an official long-term plan formally adopted by the Board of Education. The State Education Department will not accept a "back-up" plan. At this time, they are proceeding with their review process, with a goal of completing their evaluation in time for the residents of the Port Washington School District to vote on a bond referendum this spring.
Why is it critical to vote on the bond referendum by June 30?
The desire to have the community bond referendum prior to June 30 is to take full advantage of the additional state aid (up to 10 percent) available during this period.
What will we do if the bond fails?
If the bond were voted down, we would not be entitled to approximately $540,000 per year in state aid for 22 years, or totally about $9.4 million.
The Board of Education would then meet and review the educational plan and the projected construction, renovation and repairs. Meetings with staff, parents and community would take place. The board would then develop a new long-term plan. The architect would do a cost breakdown, and if satisfactory to the board, it would be submitted to the State Education Department for approval to have a bond vote.
If there was less construction in each and every building in the new plan, it is possible that the environmental impact statements, required for the first plan, could apply. This could allow the State Education Department to more quickly process the new bond application. The potential saving in processing time might be as much as six to eight weeks.
Legally, the State Education Department requires a minimum of 45 days from the publication of the notice to vote before a second bond vote could be held. In addition, it takes several days to process the public notice. Therefore, it would be impossible to have a second vote prior to June 30.
If the bond is voted down, the district will not have permanent solutions in place for the start of school September 2001.
Why not have another plan ready to be submitted if the first plan fails?
The long-term plan, approved by the Board of Education and submitted to the state, is the product of thousands of hours of research, planning and staff and community input. This plan meets required benchmarks for academic standards, grade configuration and support services, and incorporates state mandates. It also reaffirms our current thinking on grade configuration that supports educational trends throughout the country. The plan also responds to the current condition of the buildings and accommodates enrollment projections.
It provides the district with a way to meet tomorrow's needs in addition to today's requirements. Our obligation remains to complete the process already in motion.