Nassau BOCES provides special education programs for 350 students at...

Nassau BOCES provides special education programs for 350 students at the Jerusalem Avenue School in North Bellmore, seen on Dec. 27, 2017. Credit: Barry Sloan

Voters in Nassau County on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a plan to allow Nassau BOCES to spend $12 million to buy a North Bellmore building to house educational programming for hundreds of students with behavioral and developmental disabilities.

The 2,225 to 254 vote allows Nassau BOCES to own the Jerusalem Avenue School that it now rents to provide special education programs for 350 students. The results are unofficial until they are approved by BOCES board members at a meeting scheduled for Feb. 26.

Voters cast ballots in eight polling sites that were open between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

“We would like to thank everyone who participated in this vote,” Robert R. Dillon, Nassau BOCES district superintendent, said in a statement. “Our purchase of the Jerusalem Avenue School will provide long-term savings for our local school districts.”

The purchase is expected to save about $1.4 million annually starting in the 2018-19 school year.

Nassau BOCES has rented the space from the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District since 1998. Under that arrangement, all 56 component school districts in the county footed the bill.

Officials estimate that the $12 million purchase price will be paid back through the annual savings in nine years.

The deal includes the 133,000-square-foot school building and the 16-acre property on which it sits. Two programs are housed in the school: the Jerusalem Avenue Elementary Program and the Children’s Readiness Center.

Officials said that the funds for the purchase came from the Nassau BOCES Capital Fund, which included money earmarked for the purpose. The deal will require no borrowing or debt service.

It is part of a strategy designed to save millions of dollars in taxpayer funds by owning rather than renting space, officials said.

In 2016, voters approved Nassau BOCES’ purchase of the Carman Road School in Massapequa Park for $9 million, saving about $900,000 in annual rent.

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