Note: This story as was originally posted online contained an error. That error has since been corrected.
On March 12, Glen Cove City School District residents will vote on an $84.6 million bond that would fund improvements at all six district schools. If it is approved, every building will be repaired or renovated, and new additions will be built at four of the schools.
Passage of the bond would result in a tax increase of roughly $36 a month for the average Glen Cove household, starting in 2021. While attendees at Board of Education and City Council meetings have offered differing opinions on the measure, a group of volunteers calling themselves Vote Yes March 12 are voicing their support and encouraging others to do the same.
The group is made up primarily of Glen Cove parents whose children attend city schools. Formed in January, shortly after the bond proposal was adopted by the school board, Vote Yes March 12 is focused on persuading voters just how vital its members believe the bond will be to the future of the district.
Maria Venuto, who served on the Board of Education from 2016 to 2018, including a year as vice president, created the group. Its chief mission, she said, is to make sure voters understand the measure. Venuto was inspired in part by the failure 10 years ago of a similar bond, elements of which return in this year’s proposal. Now it is needed even more, she said, especially when it comes to the schools’ failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which she believes “has become really critical.”
And, while every provision of the bond is important, Venuto said, there is one that must take priority. “We have to deal with the safety things because of the climate of gun violence in schools,” she said. “That makes it very essential.” If the bond were to pass, every district classroom would receive new, more secure doors and windows.
Lia DiPaola Leone, the mother of a fourth-grader at Connolly Elementary School and a kindergartner at Gribbin Elementary, said she also believed security was of the utmost importance. “I hope that our students have a safer and more healthy place to be on a daily basis,” she said. “The learning environment needs to match the level of education that they’re getting through their hard-working teachers.”
Leone, who grew up in the Glen Cove district and graduated from Glen Cove High School in 1994, is an elementary reading specialist in the Hicksville School District, which passed a similar bond in 2017. She was a strong supporter of that measure, and said it was vital that Glen Cove’s pass, too. “[The schools] look exactly the same as they did when I was there,” she said.
According to Rosemarie Chicvak, a mother of fourth- and fifth-graders at Landing Elementary School, the fact that the schools have not changed much over the past two decades is only the tip of the iceberg. “We need the infrastructure of the schools to be fixed,” she said. “We have 100-year-old schools that have Band-Aids on them . . . We’re looking for a roof. We’re looking for ceilings that aren’t falling down.”
Christopher Moll, who has a daughter in sixth grade at Finley Middle School, said that district buildings’ deteriorating infrastructure was a significant factor in his decision to support the bond. “The biggest thing for me is that the bond isn’t trying to make some huge, glamorous buildings,” he said. “We’re just looking to make sure they’re safe and that they’re up to code.”
Moll, the director of Jazz Hands Children’s Theatre in Glen Cove, has used the stage in Finley’s Wunsch auditorium for four years, and has noted that the lighting is unsafe. “The electrical in that building is so bad that we have to put someone on stage with a fire extinguisher,” he said.
“This has to get done,” Moll added, “because these buildings are old, and it’s time to update them. You can’t make the changes and updates we need just by taxes — we need a bond. No school district makes these types of changes without a bond.”
Chicvak emphasized that the bond would affect not only students and parents in the district, but also every property owner in Glen Cove. People who plan to move to the city, she said, could be deterred by the state of the schools.
“When people look at homes, one of the first things they look at is schools,” Chicvak said. “Our property values will go down if the schools are falling apart.”
The votes will take place March 12, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., at Glen Cove High and Connolly Elementary.