Sewanhaka's $100 million bond

School officials highlight needs as Dec. 4 public bond vote nears


The Sewanhaka Central High School District is making clear its need for voter passage of a proposed $99.5 million bond in a Dec. 4 referendum. District officials say that the average homeowner would pay an additional $144 annually if the bond is approved.

Superintendent of Schools Ralph Ferrie spoke to the Herald on Nov. 7 about the most critical needs of each district building, highlighting the areas that its renovation plan, prepared by the district’s architects, Wiedersum Associates, would address. The district — comprising Sewanhaka, H. Frank Carey, Elmont Memorial, Floral Park Memorial and New Hyde Park Memorial high schools — would see major renovations and upgrades, as well as additions to Sewanhaka High’s vocational buildings and the Alva T. Stanforth Community Athletic Facility, in Elmont.

The district’s oldest school, Sewanhaka High, in Floral Park, built in 1929, would undergo $31.3 million in renovations and repairs — nearly a third of the total bond. Approximately $18 million would be earmarked for a new cafeteria and gymnasium. The school’s current gym is too small, with low ceilings and limited spectator seating.

The new cafeteria, which would be built on the first floor, would allow for the separation of seventh- and eighth-graders from high school students. Ferrie detailed the rusted fixtures of the building’s roof, which would be replaced where necessary.

H. Frank Carey, in Franklin Square, built in 1955, would undergo $15 million in repairs, many involving its athletic field. A new track and synthetic-turf field would be constructed for the football, boys’ and girls’ soccer and lacrosse programs, designed to allow for new baseball and softball fields. Other work would include the reconstruction of the building’s roof and renovations of the bathrooms, music room and science rooms. The music room has cubbies with cracked and broken wood foundations. Some of the building’s elevators are rusted, and have discolored and displaced tiles.

Ferrie noted the deteriorating parking lot, with its cracked, uneven concrete, and the bathrooms, some of which have chipped paint and inoperable latches.

There would be nearly $16 million of work at Elmont Memorial, which was also built in 1955, including renovations of its fitness center, wrestling room and locker rooms. A gymnasium would also be built, as well as a new guidance suite and art room. The wrestling room has ripped cloth, while the locker rooms lack ventilation.

Many classroom radiators are dented, the exterior of the building has cracked bricks along its side and dented fixtures on the roof.

The referendum would authorize, but not require, the district to issue $99.5 million in debt to fund the projects over three or four years. The district would try to secure the lowest possible interest rates on that debt. Approximately 40 percent of the principal and interest would be covered by state building aid.

Floral Park Memorial and New Hyde Park memorial would see nearly $21 million and $14.3 million in renovations, respectively.

Ferrie encouraged homeowners to use the estimated tax impact calculator tab on the district’s website,

Should the referendum pass, construction on the fields and roofs could begin next May, depending on state approval of the projects and the construction bidding process. The remainder of the projects would begin in the spring of 2015 and be completed by the fall of 2017.

The district will offer presentations at New Hyde Park Memorial, on Nov. 14, from 7 to 9 p.m., and Sewanhaka High, on Nov. 15, from 5 to 7 p.m.