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Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Bellmore-Merrick Central School District offers details of $47.6M bond
(Page 2 of 3)
Scott Brinton/Herald Life
Fred Seeba, an engineer with BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers, gave a presentation on Wednesday before the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District Board of Education, offering details about a $47.6 million bond proposal that would, if passed, fund upgrades at each of the district’s five schools, as well as the Brookside Central Administration Office and the Jerusalem Avenue School, which is rented to the Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Central District officials said that more information on Bellmore-Merrick’s bond would be presented at the Wednesday, Sept. 25, Board of Education meeting, at 8 p.m. at the Brookside School in North Merrick. Residents will have the chance to ask questions and express their thoughts about the bond.

“We are excited to finalize this much-needed plan with the community’s input,” said Schwartz in a prepared statement. “This project is about making basic upgrades to our schools so that our students – our children – are learning in an optimal environment.

“These building upgrades are inevitable. We must make them soon so that our buildings continue to function in an efficient manner,” Schwartz continued. “By bonding the project, we are able to fund the project in the most cost-effective way possible – and get our fair share of state building aid.”

The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District has not sought a public bond vote since the mid-1960s, when it built Kennedy High School. The district typically funds its building improvements through the annual operating budget, a practice that is becoming increasingly more difficult, officials said.

“In the new ‘tax-cap era,’ it would be virtually impossible for our district to make the improvements called for in this plan through the annual budget. Doing so would call for major impacts to the educational program,” said Schwartz. “While most other districts throughout Long Island – including our surrounding districts – have taken advantage of state building aid to help fund building needs, it is time for our district to do the same.”

If the bond were to fail in a Dec. 2 vote, the district could not put it up for a revote for at least three months, according to state law. District officials said they hope to begin renovation work next summer. If the bond were to go down the first time out but was later approved in the spring, work could not start over the summer. The reason, Seeba said, is that the state Department of Education needs up to 30 weeks to approve renovation plans that include mechanical, electrical and plumbing work.

“They’re overburdened and understaffed up there,” he said.

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