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Voters approve bonds to upgrade schools in W. Babylon, Shoreham-Wading River

Residents of the West Babylon and Shoreham-Wading River school districts voted to approve $60 million in facility reconstruction bonds Tuesday.

Officials from the two districts said passage of the bond referendums was necessary to pay for badly needed upgrades of deteriorating schools, parking fields and athletic facilities.

In West Babylon, residents voted 616-376 to approve a $30 million bond issue that will raise taxes by about $96 per year on the average home for the next 15 years. School officials said they anticipated that about two-thirds of the project's cost would be covered by state aid.

"This will allow us to address so many needed repairs," said West Babylon Superintendent Yiendhy Farrelly. "It means a whole lot to us as a community and as a school district."

Shoreham-Wading River residents voted 1,421-585 to approve bonding there that is part of a $48 million package, including about $15 million from a reserve fund consisting of unspent state aid. District residents voted on a $33.6 million bond that will increase taxes by about $360 annually for the average home.

"This is proof that if the majority of a community wants a change, it can be accomplished through the hard work of dedicated parents and passionate volunteers," said Michael Lewis, a member of community group SWR United For Rebuilding the Pride.

Officials in both districts identified nearly identical problems at their decades-old buildings, such as outdated electric and heating systems, leaky roofs, crumbling athletic facilities and classrooms that do not comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Both hired BBS Architects of Patchogue to design the planned overhauls.

In Shoreham-Wading River, half Miller Avenue Elementary School's second-graders attend classes in portable buildings because of space shortages, district officials said Monday.

West Babylon officials said damaged floor and ceiling tiles will be replaced, and a school bus diesel tank that they said is too small for district needs will be replaced with a larger one. Patchy elementary school playing fields will be renovated, and synthetic turf fields will be installed at the middle school and high school.Voters in that district last May rejected a state tax cap-busting $100.5 million budget after some complained of wasteful spending. The next month, voters approved a revised $99.3 million budget that cut the equivalent of 9.9 teachers, 18 hall monitors and several sports teams.

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