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Saturday, January 31, 2015
Schools
Bellmore-Merrick Central School District offers details of $47.6M bond
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.

The fine details of a $47.6 million bond proposal to upgrade the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District’s seven buildings emerged at a Sept. 11 meeting of the Board of Education, including what work would be performed at which schools and a date for a possible vote.

Central District officials said they are looking at Dec. 2 as the likely date for a public vote on the bond, which, if passed, would fund new science laboratories, bathrooms and synthetic-turf fields at Grand Avenue and Merrick Avenue middle schools, and Calhoun, Kennedy and Mepham high schools.

Architect Joseph Rettig and engineer Fred Seeba, of the district’s Patchogue-based design firm, BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers, laid out renovation plans at each of the five schools, as well as the Brookside Central Administration Office in North Merrick and the Jerusalem Avenue School in North Bellmore, which the district rents to the Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

BBS’s proposal includes $7.5 million for new artificial-turf athletic fields, $6 million for new bathrooms and $5 million for new science laboratories at each of the district’s five schools, as well as renovated music, art, faculty and guidance rooms, refinished gymnasium floors, kitchen ceiling and lighting replacement, removal of vinyl asbestos tiles, masonry work and new doors where needed. In addition, the plan calls for:

At Grand Avenue Middle School

• New science room cabinetry.

At Merrick Avenue Middle School

• New science room cabinetry.

At Calhoun High School

• New auditorium stage side curtains because the current ones are ripped.

• Renovation of the Calhoun Café and resource room B166.

• Ceiling replacement where needed throughout the school.

At Kennedy High School

• Renovation of the family and consumer science and group instruction rooms.

• Renovation of the main lobby.

• Ceiling replacement where needed throughout the school.

At Mepham High School

• Removal of a locker room and shower to create storage space for athletic equipment.

• A new photo lab and art room.

• New auditorium sound and lighting equipment.

The list of work is still subject to change, said Superintendent John DeTommaso. Work would primarily be done during summers over three to four years. The following is a per-school cost breakdown for the work: Kennedy, $12 million; Mepham, $12 million; Calhoun, $10 million; Grand Avenue, $9.8 million; Merrick Avenue, $7.2 million; Brookside, $7.1 million; Jerusalem Avenue, $100,000.

If the proposal goes to a vote and residents approve it, 53.9 percent of the total cost would be funded through New York state building aid. Local taxpayers would fund the remaining cost.

Cynthia Regal, the district’s deputy superintendent for business, had said at a previous meeting that the average homeowner could expect to pay $98 more per year in property taxes if the bond were to pass, or $1,410 over the bond’s 15-year life.

On Sept. 11, Regal said she decided to estimate the possible tax impact more conservatively because the interest rate on bonds has risen in recent months, which would add to the annual property-tax bill. Now Regal estimates that the bond would increase the average bill by $101 per year, or $1,515 over 15 years.

Board of Education Trustee Susan Schwartz asked Rettig and Seeba how much it would cost to install air-conditioning in each of the district’s auditoriums. Schwartz said that temperatures are only expected to increase with climate change, and having air-conditioning would make attending performances at the auditoriums more comfortable for residents.

“That’s definitely something we want to consider,” Schwartz said of auditorium air-conditioning.

Officials noted that the Rockville Centre School District is installing air-conditioning in classrooms throughout the district at a cost of nearly $2.4 million. The project is part of a major renovation that Rockville Centre is funding through a $45.9 million bond that passed in March.

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Dinafamily

In a recent letter to the editor Mr. Fleischman, of Merrick, indicated that synthetic turf fields aren't important and went on to suggest that the installation of these fields would cost taxpayers $94. In addition, the gentleman randomly added $350 to what he says is a standard increase to get to a $500 figure. This "fuzzy math" is meant to do little else but scare and confuse people to support his position on the fields. The truth is that the fields themselves would cost the average homeowner in the district less than $15. Furthermore, the current condition of the fields are nothing short of dangerous and these fields are a necessity to mitigate potential liability. If Mr. Fleischman is not concerned with the safety of children he should ask himself if a $15 investment is worth mitigating a potential multi million dollar claim against the district. I find it ironic that he chose to take issue with the fields and not to question the $7M earmarked in the bond issue to renovate the district's administrative building.

John Dina - Bellmore

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