SWR School Board OK’s $48M bond proposition

11/05/2014 12:12 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. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister, file)

It’s official: The Shoreham-Wading River bond proposition is going to the polls.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the district’s school board unanimously approved the vote on a $48 million bond proposal for Jan. 13, the earliest board members said it was possible. 

If approved by voters, the single proposal would take $15 million from the district’s reserves, saved up from previous years of state aid, and bond out for the remaining $33 million. It would also mark the first school bond passed by taxpayers in the district’s history.

The $48,544,627 proposition would pay for projects like roofing repairs, reconstructed bus loops, window replacements, reconstructed tennis courts and expanded classroom space, according to a detailed report of the plan. It was drafted by a bond committee of school administrators and community members.

The proposal was originally pitched as two separate propositions, which were ultimately combined after some board members worried that one proposition might appear more important than the other. Concern had also been raised about the legality of holding a single proposition coming from two separate funding sources.

The resolution setting a date for the bond proposition vote was added onto the school board agenda during the meeting.

Board president William McGrath said the bond proposition addressed issues that have lingered in the district for years, mostly related to outdated infrastructure.

The board said the community must also be aware that even if the bond passes, the district will have to begin piercing the 2 percent tax levy cap to maintain student programs and services in the district as they are now.

Superintendent Steven Cohen said the district has managed to avoid piercing the cap by making up the budget deficits with money from district reserves. But that fund is drying up, he said, and contractual obligations for teachers’ salaries and benefits are outpacing how high Shoreham-Wading River can raise taxes.

Mr. McGrath said that if voters want the district’s level of schooling to remain in place, they should prepare for several years of piercing the cap i.

“It’s critical that support is for the bond [and] for the budgets going forward,” Mr. McGrath noted.

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