Amityville School District residents vote March 8 on a $69.9 million bond issue to fund renovations and expansion intended to keep pace with growing enrollment in a district where most of the students were deemed “economically disadvantaged.”
State aid would cover $38.9 million of the total, with residents paying off the $31 million remainder over the 20-year life of the bond. Yearly property taxes on the average home in the district, which spans parts of Babylon and Oyster Bay towns, would increase by about $242 in Babylon and $223 in Oyster Bay.
“We are mindful of the expense we’re asking taxpayers to bear, but this is a very good deal,” Superintendent Mary T. Kelly said. “It will pay off as an investment.”
The Amityville district is one of the few on Long Island that is growing, with 3,181 students and a projected 3,784 by 2023, according to a 2014 district demographic study. Much of the growth will be at the already crowded Amityville Memorial High School as well as Northeast and Northwest Elementary schools, according to the study.
Plans call for $50.6 million expansions at Northwest Elementary and at the high school, where for years some classes have been taught in trailers brought in to ease the crowding.
The high school would get 22 new classrooms, a new gym and an expanded cafeteria, among other improvements. Ninth-grade students — moved to Edmund W. Miles Middle School years ago to ease overcrowding — would move back to the high school. Northwest, with students from kindergarten through second grade, would get new classrooms, physical education stations and a library.
Across the district, security vestibules would be added at building entrances. Much of the other proposed work focuses on basic infrastructure upkeep that district officials say is needed for buildings approaching 90 years old: air conditioning and electrical upgrades, masonry reconstruction, and new glazing on windows so old that Kelly said some have become virtually opaque.
The projects represent the first major bond-funded upgrades in the district in more than a decade.
District officials this weekend start a month of school building tours to make their case to residents, some of whom are vocally tax-averse.
Across the district, 78 percent of students were judged “economically disadvantaged” by New York State for the 2014-15 school year, meaning they or their families participated in economic assistance programs such as the free or reduced-price lunch programs and food stamps.
Those families include many in Amityville Village who in 2013 elected a slate of trustees campaigning on a promise to abide by the state tax cap and cut municipal spending.
And while district voters in 2002 approved a $7 million bond for repairs and additions at Park Avenue Elementary School, many did so grudgingly, angry over what they saw as mismanagement of an earlier project at the school.
“The history of bond referendums in the village has not been fabulous,” said Amityville Parent-Teacher Council vice president Dina Shingleton, who is also the village clerk-treasurer and mother of a fourth-grader at Park Avenue.
The council is urging voters to attend the building tours, Shingleton said. “We want everyone to make their own informed decision.”