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Kings Park school district faces $41 million in building improvements

Kings Park High School in Kings Park is

Kings Park High School in Kings Park is shown on Thursday, July 23, 2015. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

Kings Park Central School District residents may be facing a roughly $41 million bond vote this fall to improve all six of the district's school buildings over the next five years.

School officials established a committee of 18 district staff, community and school board members, which has met since June to determine needed updates to roofs, boilers, windows and other items.

The committee plans to present its most recent findings at Tuesday night's school board meeting, at 7:30 at Kings Park High School. The report will be analyzed by school board members, who will ultimately decide the bond amount, officials said.

Kings Park schools Superintendent Timothy Eagen said the committee was formed as an outgrowth of a building condition survey the district submitted this year to the state Education Department and during the 2015-16 budget process.

"We were very transparent with the community that there was this big dollar amount of infrastructure work that needed to happen, but to do that work in a typical budget cycle just was not going to be feasible," he said.

Several Long Island school districts have held referendums in recent years to fund building updates. In January, voters approved bonds of $30 million for West Babylon and $33.6 million for Shoreham-Wading River school districts to improve outdated electric and heating systems, leaky roofs and other items.

In May 2014, Sewanhaka Central High School District voters approved an $86.6 million bond for renovations at five high schools and, in November, Middle Country School District voters approved a $125.2 million plan to upgrade 14 aging buildings.

"When I see what other districts are doing, we're right in the middle," said Pam DeFord, president of Kings Park Board of Education.

DeFord, who toured school buildings in the district, said she was shocked to see conditions in some of them. "Gym lockers at the middle school and high school are rusted and corroded," she said. "In the bathrooms, there are broken faucets and doors with no locks in the individual stalls . . . it's a shame that our children have to encounter the poor conditions."

Casey Samson, 17, a rising senior and the only student committee member, said she hopes the district will install turf athletic fields, improve a track with holes in it and update an outdated library.

"I was really rooting for some of the more nonessential improvements," which some committee members saw as lower priorities, she said. But Samson said such changes would benefit students and allow "the community to see where their money is going to."

Tony Tanzi, president of the Kings Park Chamber of Commerce, said he analyzed the bond as a parent and business owner. "We don't want it to break the bank, but at the end of the day, it's a proven fact that the success of your school district has a direct correlation to the value of your property," he said, adding that library and athletic field updates would be a boon to students.


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