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Deer Park schools to ask voters to approve $17M bond

The Deer Park School District will hold a

The Deer Park School District will hold a bond referendum for $17 million in school improvements, including some for Robert Frost Middle School, pictured in an undated photo. Credit: Alexi Knock, 2011

Deer Park School Board administrators made their final presentation for a $17 million schools improvements bond referendum last week.

Proposed repairs under the bond, which goes before voters Oct. 20, "run the gamut" from roof replacements to bathroom renovations in six district buildings, said Marguerite Jimenez, assistant superintendent of Business and Operations.

Dozens of proposed projects also include a $1.4 million artificial turf field for Deer Park High School and $1.9 million for science labs at Robert Frost Middle School.

Voter approval of the bond would not increase taxes because old debt will be retired, officials said.

Bruce Sander, president of the union that represents district teachers, called the proposed projects "very, very necessary," but the presentation drew no comment from residents at a lightly attended meeting.

District officials also announced the results of a residency certification program that Frank Caliguiri, assistant superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services, said was intended to identify students who live elsewhere and are "not legally attending school in the district." The district removed 35 students before the start of the school year, he said, and is investigating an additional 35 families. Since the program's inception, about a decade ago, approximately 500 students have been removed.

"There are people who will drive their kids from wherever they are and drop them off at a bus stop, have the kids wait and get on a bus," he said.

The district spends approximately $19,000 on each general education student, and significantly more on some special education students.

The program relies on residency documents that the district asks parents to mail in over the summer.

"If we didn't get these kids out, we could be hitting 5,000 students in the district," said Board of Education president John Gouskos, with an added cost to taxpayers of $1 million per year.

Deer Park schools served 4,154 students in the 2013-14 school year, the last year for which information was available on the New York State Education Department website.

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