Oceanside School District has proposed a $50 million bond for a district-wide capital project, which includes new heating, ventilation and air conditioning units and related electrical upgrades and reconstruction.
The estimated impact on taxes is a one-time increase of $11.95 per month on homes assessed at average value by the county assessor, according to district officials.
“We’re excited about this potential opportunity to upgrade our school buildings,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Phyllis Harrington. “Of course, it’s a decision for the community to make.”
The bond project qualifies for state building aid, district officials noted. This means New York state would reimburse the district for 45 percent of total construction costs. Those reimbursements would be added to the district’s revenue in future years’ budgets and partially offset district expenses, minimizing the overall tax impact of the project, which is expected to take about five years to complete.
“Taxes go up one time for the whole project,” said Donna Kraus, the school district’s public information officer. “When we do a big project like this, we don’t actually go out and borrow all the money at once. We do each project, one at a time, and then get reimbursed by the state for about 45 percent.”
Kraus said an increasing number of students and staff has requested being in air-conditioned rooms due to medical needs. “More and more, the community has been pushing for this,” she said.
Currently, only some classrooms have AC units, which is “not an efficient way” to ventilate the building, Kraus noted. “The dampness creates mold,” she said, “and it is not electrically efficient.”
Therefore, the project would replace existing ventilating units with new ones that have both cooling and heating capacities in the classrooms, as well as adding split AC and heat ventilators in small offices.
The district would also install new rooftop HVAC units, which require upgrades to the buildings’ electrical service. As a result, the schools will need ceiling reconstruction and installation of sheet rock cases to conceal new piping.
There would also be casework reconstruction, asbestos abatement and automatic temperature controls associated with the new HVAC work.
“Our buildings get a great deal of use every day, including weekends, all year round, on behalf of our students and by many community groups and sports teams,” Harrington said. “Should the community support the bond, the improvements to our buildings will have a widespread positive impact. “
If the bond vote passes, the project would begin upon review and approval by the New York State Department of Education. District officials hope work could begin by summer 2020.
Voters in the district can cast their ballots at the Merle Avenue Gym at School No. 6 on Nov. 12 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.