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North Babylon voters to decide on $69M school bond

All seven schools would get upgrades, from air conditioners to turf fields to gas lines for Bunsen burners, not ‘lavish enhancement,’ superintendent says.

North Babylon residents will vote Tuesday, Dec. 5,

North Babylon residents will vote Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, on a $69 million bond issue to finance a variety capital improvements in their school district including upgrades at all seven of the district's schools and the construction of a 9,000-square-foot administration building. Above, North Babylon High School is shown on Dec. 02, 2017. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

North Babylon residents will head to the polls Tuesday to vote on $69 million in bonds their school district hopes to issue to finance capital improvements.

The $69,249,500 bond issue would pay for upgrades in each of the district’s seven schools, bringing improvements to classrooms, sports fields and building infrastructure that district officials said are vital to educating students.

“It’s not a lavish enhancement,” Glen Eschbach, the district superintendent, said of the capital work the borrowing would fund. “It’s bringing it up to a standard where our kids deserve to be educated.”

The bond issue — the first for the district since 2003 — would raise school taxes by $17.57 per month for the average district household, Eschbach said.

The New York State Education Department would finance 74.2 percent of the improvements to facilities used by district students, leaving the costs borne by taxpayers closer to $22.4 million, he said.

But the state funding would only come in over 15 years, which is why the district needs to bond for the entire $69 million.

Eschbach said the potential bond-funded projects were conceived to support “every type of learner.”

The district would renovate science labs, for example, some of which are not equipped with gas lines for Bunsen burners. Every district library would get a makeover as well. And new synthetic turf fields would be installed at North Babylon High School, he said.

The bonds would also finance the construction of a 9,000-square-foot administration building, which would cost about $6 million, Eschbach said.

Danielle Leacock, president of the Parkdale Civic Association of North Babylon, said she intends to vote for the bond issue.

“It would be a positive impact on our school district, not only for home values but for our kids,” said Leacock, whose three children attend district schools.

Spiro Vagelatos, president of North Babylon’s Sunset City Civic Association, said some community members have expressed concerns about the ability of fixed-income residents to afford the tax increase. But he said the bond issue is “good for the school system” and that he intends to vote for it.

District residents can cast their votes from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday. Polling places are listed at northbabylonschools.net.

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