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Friday, October 24, 2014
Super lays out case for $49M bond proposal
(Page 2 of 4)
Scott Brinton/Herald Life
Susan Schwartz, center, the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District Board of Education president, said on Sept. 25 that the board would not consider separating synthetic-turf athletic fields from a $49.89 million bond proposal, which would allow residents to vote on the $7.5 million allotted for the fields separately from all other projects. At left was John DeTommaso, the Central District superintendent, who laid out his case for the bond at the Board of Education meeting.

New to the bond, the Board of Education added air-conditioning for all auditoriums and classrooms, at the suggestion of Board of Education President Susan Schwartz. School officials said classroom temperatures climbed as high as 90 degrees during the warmer months, making it difficult for students to concentrate, particularly when they are taking state exams.

Thousands of students, the superintendent said, have passed through the district’s bathrooms. Some fixtures no longer work, and finding parts for them is hard.

Finally, the bond would enable the district to upgrade its security systems, with card readers at doors, panic alarms and interior and exterior strobe lights, according to DeTommaso.

A little more than half of the total bond amount –– $26.89 million –– would be returned to the school district in state building aid, which Bellmore-Merrick would receive over the 15-year life of the bond. Additionally, County Legislator David Denenberg, a Democrat from Merrick, has pledged a $250,000 county grant if the bond passes.

The bond would cost local taxpayers $104 per year, or $8.67 a month. “This bond does a lot of bang for the buck,” the superintendent said.

In a special meeting on Oct. 7 at 5:30 p.m., the Board of Education plans to adopt a resolution setting Dec. 2 as the day of the bond vote.

“We think it’s critical that Bellmore-Merrick has the best,” DeTommaso said.

What residents said

Ross Turrini, of Merrick, the father of a seventh-grader and an 11th-grader, said that the schools “need to be revamped.”

Turrini, a proponent of artificial-turf fields, said he was grateful that the board proposed them. “We thank you for including [them] in the bond,” he said.

Bob Pizzimenti, a Merokean with two children in local schools who is president of the John F. Kennedy High School Sports Boosters, said he has often had to rake Central District fields to make them playable for youth games, and so he supports artificial-turf fields. But, he said, it’s important to keep in mind that the bond would enable the district to repair its schools.

Students “can’t have science labs that are falling apart,” Pizzimenti said. “They can’t have classrooms that are falling apart … The lion’s share of the bond is to improve the schools.”

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