Residents of the Elmont School District will go to the polls on Thursday, March 18 to vote on a proposed $12 million bond issue. Passage of the bond referendum will enable the school district to add 40 new classrooms, add or enhance kitchens and cafeterias, make playground improvements, and remove the old portable classrooms at Gotham Avenue School when permanent additions are completed.
Over the last several weeks, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Maria Palandra attended various community meetings and hosted public hearings in the district's elementary schools in order to hear and respond to residents' questions about the referendum. "One aspect of the bond that I emphasize to residents is that this proposition addresses the district's immediate needs. If we had these classrooms today, many of them would be filled," said Dr. Palandra. "This is a no frills - bread and butter - approach to dealing with the tremendous increase in the number of students attending our schools," continued Dr. Palandra. Elmont's student population has grown 40 percent over the last 12 years.
Dr. Palandra underscores that the proposition allows the district to get the most benefit from what is, when contrasted to bonds recently passed by other school districts, a modest bond referendum. He stated "I believe that this referendum represents the best and most efficient configuration of space so that we can get the room we need to educate our children."
The additioinal 40 classrooms would be distributed throughout the district's six elementary schools. In addition to providing permanent space to "floating" classes, such as art and music, the new classrooms would allow for a pre-school program and special education classes for the 25-35 Elmont children presently educated outside of the district whose needs can easily be met within the district, Dr. Palandra said. Children with severe special education needs who cannot be adequately serviced in Elmont schools would continue attending facilities outside of the district.
"Our goal is to provide students with facility space that is most conductive to learning," noted Dr. Palandra. That entails moving classes from the basements up to the first floors and then incorporating vacated basement classrooms that were previously used for instruction into core facility areas, such as cafeterias and multi-purpose spaces.
Many of the teachers who would occupy the new classrooms are already teaching art, music, and pre-school classes that "float" from one location to the next. Passage of the bond provides these teachers with permanent classes. Any additional hiring of teachers would not differ from traditional hiring trends: the district hires teachers because of the continued growth in student enrollment.
Dr. Palandra encourages all residents to vote on March l8. "I urge all eligible voters in the community to come to the polls and make their voice count."