The Sewanhaka Central High School District’s $99.5 million bond proposal to renovate the district’s five schools was defeated on Dec. 4. The final tally was 2,706 “no” votes and 2,412 “yes” votes, a difference of 294 votes, or almost 6 percentage points.
“I’m very disappointed,” School Board President David Fowler told the Herald following the announcement of the results. “Many people worked very hard to make this possible. We will now have to take a look at how to move forward, because these are aging buildings that need work. We’re going to have to go back to look at what we can and should do for our educational system.”
Residents in the four school districts that comprise the Sewanhaka District— Elmont, Franklin Square, New Hyde Park-Garden City Park and Floral Park-Bellerose — were eligible to vote in the referendum, and Floral Park-Bellerose was the only district in which a majority favored the measure, by a count of 1,111-955. The largest disparity between “no” and “yes” votes was in New Hyde Park-Garden City Park (614-347), while the closest vote was in Franklin Square (551-527). In Elmont, the tally was 586-427.
Had the bond passed, the average homeowner would have seen an annual tax increase of $144, or $12 per month, for three or four years. The referendum would have authorized the district — which includes Sewanhaka, H. Frank Carey, Elmont Memorial, Floral Park Memorial and New Hyde Park Memorial high schools — to issue $99.5 million in debt to fund the projects over three or four years. Approximately 40 percent of the principal and interest on the debt would have been paid by the state, in the form of building aid.
At a board meeting on Dec. 5, Superintendent of Schools Ralph Ferrie also expressed disappointment at the defeat of the proposal, and said that in the future, tax cap limitations would continue to pose challenges. The board and administration, he said, would review the results to evaluate any future course of action.