Residents of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District have approved a nearly $50 million borrowing plan that officials said will allow upgrades to all five of the district's schools.
The $49.9 million capital bond proposal was approved in a Monday vote 3,441 to 2,717 -- or by about 56 percent. The district can now afford five new science labs, five synthetic athletic fields, and an overhaul of the schools' heating and air-conditioning systems, Superintendent John DeTommaso said.
"The passage of this proposition will ensure that our schools run more efficiently and that we will be able to support the most up-to-date curricular material for our students," DeTommaso said in a statement Tuesday.
The state will fund $26.9 million of the project, DeTommaso has said. The owner of an average home in the 5,800-student district will pay $104 per year for 15 years to pay off the bond, he has said.
District officials have said the improvements are necessary because the district's buildings were built between 1936 and 1966 and are showing signs of age. DeTommaso has said he hopes the district can start work by next summer.
Some residents had opposed the project because they felt it was too extravagant. One, Merrick resident Robert Dann, who led a group of about 150 residents against the bond, said the turf field plan in particular was too much.
Dann said he hopes the district considers the more than 2,700 residents who opposed the bond when work begins.
"I'm very concerned that a lot of people didn't consider the expense that's going to be laid on the taxpaying public," Dann said.