A proposition to build an early childhood center in Wyandanch passed 126 to 8...

 A proposition to build an early childhood center in Wyandanch passed 126 to 8 in voting at the high school on Tuesday. Credit: Newsday/William Perlman

A $46.1 million proposition to construct an early childhood center in Wyandanch and renovate existing buildings passed easily Tuesday on a vote of 125-8, school district representatives reported.

“The new Wyandanch Early Childhood Center will ensure our youngest scholars receive the nurturing and educational foundation they deserve as they begin their academic journey,” interim Superintendent Arlise Carson said in a prepared statement.

The “yes” vote will result in no additional cost to taxpayers, officials said. The entire project is to be paid through a combination of state financial aid and district reserve funds.

The vote's result was announced about 15 minutes after polls at Wyandanch Memorial High School closed at 9 p.m. 

Hours earlier, balloting was light but mostly enthusiastic. Three voters emerging from the high school over a 30-minute period in the afternoon all voiced support for the proposition. 

“I feel real good about it,” said Felice Holder, 64, a former community organizer, now retired. “I think it will help keep children in the community.” 

Currently, 248 of Wyandanch’s youngest students attend classes in rented space in a neighboring school district. A lease is due to expire at the end of this academic year, creating a sense of urgency, Wyandanch officials said.

Most funding from the referendum, just under $33.6 million, will be used to construct the center for students in prekindergarten through second grade at a site adjacent to the district’s administration building on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The new building will include 16 classrooms, a gym, library, multipurpose room with kitchen and playground.

The plan, according to board President Jarod Morris, is to temporarily house the district’s youngest students in portable classrooms starting next fall, and then move them to the center once it is built. Completion is scheduled for Sept. 1, 2026.

The remainder of the money, about $12.6 million, will pay for improvements such as replacement of ceilings, light fixtures, railings and ventilation systems at four existing schools. This will help Wyandanch comply with building codes and a federal law requiring elevators and other facilities for those with disabilities.

Among school systems, December is a popular month for holding offseason bond votes known as “special meeting” referendums. A $58.2 million proposition was passed by Hauppauge voters on Dec. 5.

Under state law, districts can schedule special referendums any time of year, not just during regular school elections in May. Some finance experts criticize this practice of offseason elections, noting that they may be held at times of the year when district residents are away on vacation or otherwise preoccupied. Others contend voting schedules must be kept flexible — in part because December elections allow districts to raise extra money for repairs during the summer when schools are closed.

Morris said Wyandanch has planned for its referendum over the past 11 months and has presented details to residents at several public meetings.

“I believe that any time you have a plan and a direction, then that’s the right time to take a vote in the community,” Morris said.

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