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South Huntington district putting $115M bond issue before voters

South Huntington Deputy Superintendent Joseph Centamore shows how

South Huntington Deputy Superintendent Joseph Centamore shows how the athletic field will be improved at Stimson Middle School if a bond proposal is approved. Photo Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Voters in the South Huntington School district will consider a $115 million bond proposal Monday that would pay for renovations and upgrades throughout the school system, including adding science labs and athletic fields. 

The proposal, known as Vision 2020, is split into two parts. Proposition 1 covers  about $86 million for renovations and upgrades, and Proposition 2 covers  about $29 million for air conditioning in classrooms, gyms and cafeterias. Voters can approve the first and the second, or just the first.

The bond issue would impact all district facilities and include projects such as adding security vestibules to buildings throughout the district; upgrading to all-turf athletic fields; building a baseball/softball complex for student-athletes; installing automatic door locks; creating a center for senior citizens; providing science and technology labs at each building; and updating most infrastructure, such as parking lots, roofs and windows.

Voting will be from noon to 9 p.m. Monday at the north gymnasium at Walt Whitman High School.

District officials noted that 92% of the projects proposed in Proposition 1 and Proposition 2 will be eligible for a 54% state aid reimbursement rate.

Late last month, the South Huntington Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution stating that any New York State building aid received for the bond referendum will be applied "to ensure that the full 54% of every dollar spent is returned directly to the taxpayer," read the resolution.

"We are pledging our word," board president Nicholas Ciappetta said Friday.

If both proposals are approved, residents on average would pay about $52 extra in property taxes annually in the first year of repayment and up to $363 in peak years.

Some residents have questioned the scope of the bond, and also are concerned about future interest rates, the reimbursement rate from the state, which they say does not include interest expense and will fall below the 54% figure promised by the district, and that costs associated with projects in the referendum have been underestimated. 

"Many of my neighbors and I feel this bond is too big, too wasteful and has minimal educational return," said Cliff Swenson, a South Huntington resident for 28 years.

Proposition 1 covers more than $18.1 million for athletic, cocurricular and community projects; $31.9 million for academics, arts and research; $22.4 million for safety and security, and more than $13.4 million for infrastructure.

The second proposition — at a cost of about $28.8 million — covers the installation of air conditioning in classrooms, gymnasiums, offices and cafeterias.

If approved, work would begin in summer 2020 and is estimated to be completed within seven years.

The district has an enrollment of nearly 6,000 students.

MONDAY'S BOND ISSUE VOTE

  • When: Noon to 9 p.m.
  • Where: North gymnasium, Walt Whitman High School, 301 West Hills Rd., Huntington Station

Proposition 1 includes projects such as:

  • STREAM labs (Science-Technology Research-Engineering Arts-Math) that expand library media centers in each building. These will be additions at the elementary schools and replace portable classrooms.
  • Music, art and performing arts studios and theaters
  • 13 turf fields
  • Security upgrades, including automated door locking and secured entrance vestibules
  • Buses equipped with cameras and internal GPS
  • Bleachers and press box at Walt Whitman High School
  • Athletic complex at Stimson Middle School
  • Replace windows and lighting, update fire alarms districtwide
  • Television studio at the high school
  • Kickball field and parking lot expansion at Maplewood Intermediate School
  • A Wildcats Hall that will include a special education transition center, instructional space, a student/senior citizen interactive center, a TRI-CYA center, and an internet cafe providing free Wi-Fi access for students and community members.

Proposition 2

  • Provides air conditioning for classrooms, gymnasiums, offices and cafeterias

SOURCE: South Huntington School District

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