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$20M bond proposal includes replacing high school grass field

Athletic fields at Harborfields High School in Greenlawn

Athletic fields at Harborfields High School in Greenlawn will be replaced if voters approve a $20 million bond. Credit: Johnny Milano

The Harborfields Central School District is poised to vote on a $20 million bond that includes replacing the high school's grass field with synthetic turf.

If approved on Tuesday, the bond would lower residents’ school tax bills by an estimated $150 a year because of debt restructuring. A $52.7 million bond used to build Washington Drive Primary School in Centerport will be retiring in 2021 and 2023.

The district would use the bond funding to upgrade infrastructure such as replacing boilers, fixing cracked sidewalks and deteriorating ceiling and lighting fixtures, and improving fresh air intake, according to the district. The bond would also pay for building security vestibules at each school and replacing doors and hardware, as well as library improvements at some of the schools.

“I thank the community for its input and participation thus far,” said Superintendent Francesco Ianni in a message posted on the district’s website. “After holding numerous community forums on this topic, we are excited to move forward with a public vote on this proposal. It addresses critical infrastructure needs within the district and allows us to continue our mission of providing a world-class education for our students, one child at a time.”

The bond also includes funding to replace the grass at Harborfields High School with synthetic turf. The move to replace the field has come up in previous bond proposals — in 2013, a vote on a $3 million bond to replace the high school field's grass with synthetic turf failed by a wide margin. A $1.985 million bond proposal also failed in 2015, after months of debate pitting those in the athletic community against those who opposed the synthetic field, mostly over health and safety concerns.

One parent said this time the total package will benefit the district.

"Personally I feel that there's something for everyone. Someone might not use the turf but there's other things in the bond. Everybody's going to benefit from it," said Sue Meehan, co-vice president of the Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School PTA. "I do hope that it passes. I do think It will benefit everyone."

The Harborfields Council of PTAs also supports the proposal.

"The bond is driven by infrastructure needs while including some instructional and athletic improvements, and security enhancements," Rachael Risinger, the group's corresponding secretary, said in a statement. 

School officials said they are “in full support of all items included in this bond proposition.”

"The Board of Education is committed to a single bond proposition with the belief that these facility upgrades will serve the needs of our students. This, however, is not to imply that every student will take advantage of every facility. Students use the facilities based upon their individual needs and interests, just the same as they choose courses, join particular clubs, or play on any one of the various athletic teams,” the district said in a statement through public relations firm Syntax. "Therefore, it is our obligation as a board, driven by this mission, to ensure equal opportunities for individual student success.”

If approved, the district expects to start construction July 2021.

The Harborfields Central School District bond vote:

Date: Dec. 3

Time: 2 to 9 p.m.

Place: Oldfield Middle School, 2 Old Field Rd, Greenlawn, NY 11740

More information is available at the district's website at harborfieldscsd.net.

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