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Deer Park schools get voters' OK for millions in improvements

The Deer Park school district's $17 million in

The Deer Park school district's $17 million in school improvements includes some for Robert Frost Middle School, pictured in an undated photo. Credit: Alexi Knock, 2011

Deer Park School District voters have approved a bond for $17 million in school improvements by a 291-90 vote.

More than half the money will go toward roof replacements at five of the district's six buildings, with smaller portions going toward grounds and entryway enhancements and the construction of security vestibules at each school.

Big ticket items include $1.9 million for science labs at Robert Frost Middle School and a $1.4 million artificial turf field for Deer Park High School. The high school field, used mostly by lacrosse and football teams, should be opened up for multiple sports on the high school and youth league levels by the start of school next year, board of education president John Gouskos said.

Pending state approval, work should begin in six months and finish two to three years, he said.

School taxes will not rise with passage of the bond referendum Tuesday, according to the district, because existing debt will be retired. New York State Building Aid will return about 62 percent of the bond's cost.

"Our approach was fairly simple," Gouskos wrote in an email Wednesday. "Full disclosure throughout entire process, combined with focus on keeping tax costs flat, with no incremental increase to anyone in the community."

While improvement bonds in some other Long Island school districts have met resistance in recent years, Gouskos said Tuesday's vote reflected broad community support despite a relatively light turnout.

"The mood is a sense of accomplishment," he said.

Deer Park schools served 4,154 students and had a graduation rate of 91 percent for the 2013-2014 school year, according to the New York State Education Department website. The statewide rate was 76 percent.

Deer Park's budget is $107.3 million with school taxes of $10,069 on the average home, a 2.62 percent increase from last year.


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