Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District Superintendent John DeTommaso made a passionate plea before a crowd of 75 at a Sept. 25 Board of Education meeting, calling on residents to pass a $49.89 million bond proposal to renovate the district’s schools. The public will vote on the plan Dec. 2.
“Our buildings are aging, and they’re aging rapidly,” DeTommaso said.
Calling the Central District’s traditional method of financing capital projects through the annual budget a “Band-Aid” approach to repairing the schools, DeTommaso said he believes that the bond, which would be repaid over 15 years, would be the “most cost-effective way to maintain our schools.”
The proposed bond includes funds to upgrade the Central District’s science labs, bathrooms, athletic fields and its music, art and faculty rooms, while refurbishing kitchens and gymnasium floors, among other projects.
DeTommaso’s presentation was illustrated with PowerPoint slides showing broken science lab fixtures, water-stained ceilings, outdated bathrooms and mottled grass athletic fields with large dirt patches.
Following the presentation, residents spoke. The only topic of extended discussion was the $7.5 million in the bond proposal for the construction of artificial-turf athletic fields. Five people spoke in favor of the fields, and three said they were opposed.
“We have leaky roofs. They’re compromising our buildings,” DeTommaso said, adding that curbs and sidewalks “all need to be addressed. I implore you to go and look at these things.”
Some Central District science labs have been redone over the years, but by and large, DeTommaso said, they are in poor shape. “Our kids are doing incredible work … They deserve science labs that aren’t falling apart,” he said.
“The fields are in poor shape,” he continued. “They’re overused. When it rains, we cross our fingers and hope they’re going to last.”