Islip schools to spend $47 million on repairs

Islip Middle School, located on Main Street, is

Islip Middle School, located on Main Street, is one of five schools in the Islip School District. (Credit: Erin Geismar)

Voters in the Islip Union Free School District have approved a $47 million bond referendum to make long-awaited improvements to the district's five buildings, performing arts spaces and athletic fields.

The referendum passed, 372-291, on Thursday, and the board of education approved the bond that night. Superintendent Susan Schnebel said the 15-year bond would fix "long-standing health and safety challenges, looking at code deficiencies with the American Disabilities Act" and address building deterioration. The district's newest building is 41 years old.

Schnebel said school officials commissioned a "community facilities review committee" with parent representatives from each building after the district received the results from its Building Condition Survey two years ago.


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"There were a tremendous amount of items that needed to be repaired, that needed to be brought up to code regulations and basically there was much to be done," Schnebel said.

The average cost to taxpayers for the improvements will be about $8 more per month, or $96 more per year, Schnebel said, and property owners would not begin paying until 2015. Michael Zeterberg, the district's superintendent for business, said in an email that the district has another bond that will mature in 2015-16 -- and be replaced by the new bond, in order to "minimize the financial impact on the district and the community."

Zeterberg said payments on the new bond would replace the current bond. When asked what taxpayers were paying on the current bond, Zeterberg did not address the question in the email response. According to a Newsday article from February 2000, the owner of an average home would be paying $80 per year on that bond from 2003 until its maturity.

Schnebel said the state Department of Education will reimburse 67.9 percent of the bond during its 15-year period.

"In reality, out of the $47 million, the state is paying for $32 million," she said. "We're really asking the taxpayers to pay the difference between the $47 [million] and $32 [million], so it's really $15 million."

Roughly $29 million will go toward "exterior envelope and infrastructure" improvements, such as roofing, plumbing, electrical, window improvements and heating, ventilation and cooling, according to documents on the district's website. Another $12 million will fund improvements to school lockers, science rooms, playgrounds, cafeterias, auditoriums and parking lots. About $5 million will pay for turf athletic fields, installing ADA-compliant bleachers complete with a press box, rehabilitating tennis and basketball courts, and constructing free-standing bathrooms and a concession stand.

Schnebel said work would begin this summer and should be completed in three years. All vendors chosen to make the improvements will go through a formal bidding process, she said.

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