Bellmore-Merrick Central District superintendent offers facilities tour

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None of the schools, DeTommaso said, have undergone a thorough overhaul since they were built. The district has repaired them on a case-by-case basis, including capital funds in the annual budget to make repairs. That pay-as-you-go approach helped control property taxes over the decades. The district has not bonded for a capital project since Kennedy was built in 1966, meaning that it has not incurred interest charges since the Kennedy bond was paid off in 1993, DeTommaso said.

Paying for repairs through the budget, however, has left a host of needed repairs at each of the schools, and it never allowed all of the science labs and art and music rooms to be renovated, the superintendent noted. Each of the schools has a handful of newer science labs, but most are long out of date and inadequate for the 21st century, according to DeTommaso.

He said he welcomed the opportunity to give the Herald Life a tour, to show residents what he believes are facilities that have served students well for decades, but are past their prime. “Let people see it,” DeTommaso said. “It’s the democratic process.”

If the proposed bond were to be voted down, he said, the need for repair work would not go away, and it would only become more costly over time. “At some point,” he said, “it will have to be done.”

“This is a facilities budget,” DeTommaso said of the bond. “When facilities are well maintained, when they’re taken care of, kids have pride in them. Pride carries through to the community.”

He emphasized that the district is not “remodeling.” “We’re fixing facilities at their life’s end,” he said.

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