Hauppauge school leaders have mapped out an ambitious three-year schedule of school renovations ranging from creation of a high school TV studio to installation of card-access security systems, now that local voters have endorsed a major bond issue.
The bond-borrowing proposition, totaling $58.2 million, won handily Tuesday night, 807-278. Renovation work is due to begin next summer and be completed by fall 2026.
Much of the voter-approved spending will go to upgrades at the high school, which is more than 70 years old. Improvements there will include a renovated science-research room, broadcast studio and outdoor instructional area. Athletic facilities also will be updated, and all five of the district's schools will see improvements in terms of safety and security, according to the district.
Initial improvements will focus on ventilation systems, roofing and parking, along with construction of outdoor basketball, handball and volleyball courts. District tennis courts will increase in number from seven to 10, with extra markings added for pickleball.
"You can be 10 years old or you can be 100 years old and still play it," said Superintendent Don Murphy, referring to the new pickleball facilities. "I love it!"
"We are very excited to get to work," said school board President David Barshay.
The proposition for bond borrowing will raise school property taxes by an estimated $15 per year for every $100,000 in home value, district officials said. For example, taxes will increase $75 annually in a house valued at $500,000 and $120 annually in a house valued at $800,000.
December is a month commonly used by districts for offseason referendums on bond propositions, especially if they are seeking extra money for school improvements the following summer when buildings are closed. Under state law, districts can hold such votes anytime during the year, not just in May when regular elections are scheduled for school board trustees and annual budgets.
Typically, voter turnout is especially low in the offseason, and some fiscal experts have criticized the scheduling practice for that reason. However, Murphy noted that his district held six public meetings between Oct. 19 and Nov. 29 for PTA members and other community groups in an effort to spur voter participation.
“The summer months are always the time to get as much done as you can,” Murphy said during a phone interview. “We’ve been laser-focused in communicating with the public.”
Of a half-dozen voters interviewed Tuesday afternoon at the district's Whiporwil administration center, all but one voiced support for the bond issue. Voters cited a variety of reasons for their endorsements, with many agreeing that schools were increasingly outdated.
"I'm glad that they're finally bringing things up-to-date," said one supporter, Shay Mazza. "It's long overdue."
Mazza co-owns a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning business with her husband and is the mother of two young children.
Another voter, Joe Alario, a retired aerospace engineer, agreed.
"It's good for the community, it's good for the younger people, and these days, it's good to bolster security," Alario said.