$48.6 million bond could go to SWR voters in December

09/10/2014 1:00 PM |
A view of two of Shoreham's tennis courts last spring, which have become unplayable after years of neglect. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister, file)

A view of two of Shoreham’s tennis courts last spring, which have become unplayable after years of neglect. New courts would be included in a bond that voters could decide on in December. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister, file)

Roof replacements. New classroom space and tennis courts. Ceiling repairs. Safer parking lots. Security upgrades.

A committee of Shoreham-Wading River teachers, administrators and parents presented a litany of fixes Tuesday night to address longstanding issues across the district’s four buildings. 

The cost of such a proposal? A $48.6 million bond that would need to go to a public vote in December, according to the presentation.

“We just feel that there is no more waiting,” said bond committee member and parent Adam Lievre. “We have to act on this now, so we can start addressing these health and safety concerns.”

As it stands, the proposal would add about $55 to the average resident’s monthly tax bill, though board member Robert Rose — who helped coordinate the bond committee — said the final total may vary and that the preliminary plan is subject to change.

“We are certainly at a crossroads,” Mr. Rose told the board. “Right now, we need to step up and take ownership.”

The bond proposal details millions of dollars in repairs and upgrades to the district’s aging infrastructure. District administrators said some of the buildings still have their original windows, which have since been welded shut after decades of use.

Nearly $13 million of the total bond would go toward creating new space at Wading River Elementary School, Miller Avenue School and the middle school.

That construction would allow the district to get rid of portable classrooms — some of which have been used by the district for nearly 25 years, assistant superintendent Glen Arcuri said. A kitchen that would service students across the district was also proposed for the middle school.

Another $4.7 million would go to what was described as “site work” at both Wading River and Miller Avenue schools. That includes a kitchen and cafeteria to serve as a “designated eating area” at Wading River.

The bond proposal also describes infrastructure needs like new roofing, which would cost nearly $30 million across the four schools. The high school would receive about $13.2 million of the funds.

Security upgrades such as better locks, more cameras and a visitor management system would be installed at all schools under the bond proposal.

District officials said Shoreham-Wading River voters have never passed a bond. The most recent attempt was a $39 million proposal to fix only the middle school in 2009.

That bond was shot down by district voters, who also voted down that year’s school budget, which carried more than a 25 percent tax increase.

School board members said they’ve learned from the mistakes of 2009. This new bond proposal was generated with the input of members of the community and spreads the upgrades around the district’s buildings.

“We’ve had better luck with our propositions … We’ve done some good things,” board member Jack Costas said. “We’ve had our successes, but the bond was our one failure.”

The board will now spend the next several months reviewing the bond proposal while taking comments from the public. If it decides to move forward with a proposal, a bond vote would come sometime in December.

Board president William McGrath stressed that now was the time for the district to bite the bullet and make what he described as much-needed upgrades and repairs.

“There’s still a lot of holes that need to be made whole,” he said.

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