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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Rejected: Sewanhaka School District’s $99.5 million bond plan

The Sewanhaka Central High School District’s $99.5 million bond proposal to renovate the district’s five schools was defeated on Wednesday, according to district officials.

The final tally was 2,428 no votes to 2,205 yes votes. The Sewanhaka School District is comprised of Sewanhaka, H. Frank Carey, Elmont Memorial, Floral Park Memorial and New Hyde Park Memorial high schools.

Had the bond passed, the average homeowner would have seen an annual tax increase of $144, or $12 per month.

“I’m very disappointed,” Sewanhaka School Board President David Fowler told the Herald. “Many people worked very hard to make this possible. We will now have to take a look on how to move forward because these are aging buildings that need work. We’re going to have to go back to look at what we can and should do for our educational system.”

Superintendent of Schools Ralph Ferrie declined to comment.

The referendum would have authorized, but not required, the district to issue $99.5 million in debt to fund the projects over three or four years. The district would have attempted to ensure the lowest possible interest rates on that debt. Approximately 40 percent of the principal and interest on the debt issued to fund the projects would have been paid by the state in the form of building aid.

Because the bond vote did not pass, Sewanhaka High, in Floral Park, and the oldest of the district’s five buildings, will not see renovations and repairs of $31.3 million ─ nearly a third of the total bond. Approximately $18 million would have been earmarked for a new cafeteria and gymnasium and the school’s current gymnasium, with low ceilings and limited spectator seating, will remain for the time being.

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