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West Babylon, Shoreham-Wading River residents to vote on school bonds Tuesday

West Babylon Junior High School. (Jan. 23, 2014)

West Babylon Junior High School. (Jan. 23, 2014) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Residents of the West Babylon and Shoreham-Wading River school districts go to the polls Tuesday to vote on more than $60 million in facility reconstruction bonds.

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

In West Babylon, residents will vote on a proposed $30 million bond issue that would raise taxes by about $96 per year on the average home. School officials said they anticipated that about two-thirds of the project's cost would be covered by state aid.

The Shoreham-Wading River plan is part of a $48 million package, including about $15 million from a reserve fund consisting of unspent state aid. District residents will vote on a $33.6 million bond that would increase taxes by about $360 annually for the average home.

Officials in both districts identified nearly identical problems at their decades-old buildings, such as outdated electric and heating systems, leaky roofs, crumbling athletic facilities and classrooms that do not comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.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

In Shoreham-Wading River, half of the second-grade class at Miller Avenue Elementary School attends classes in portable buildings because of space shortages, district officials said Monday. Many high school students walk past buckets catching drips from leaky ceilings, and students throughout the district eat in classrooms because their schools lack cafeterias, officials said.

"Students are achieving amazing things in this district despite the distractions," said Michael Lewis, a member of a community group, Shoreham-Wading River United for Rebuilding the Pride. "Imagine what they can achieve without the distractions."

West Babylon officials said damaged floor and ceiling tiles would be replaced, and a school bus diesel tank that they said is too small for district needs would be replaced with a larger one. Patchy elementary school playing fields would be renovated, and synthetic turf fields would be installed at the middle school and high school.

West Babylon officials said starting the project soon would let the district take advantage of favorable borrowing rates and the availability of state aid.

Voters in that district last May rejected a state tax cap-busting $100.5 million budget after some complained of wasteful spending. The following month, voters approved a revised $99.3 million budget that cut the equivalent of 9.9 teachers, 18 hall monitors and several sports teams.

Voting in West Babylon will take place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Residents south of Sunrise Highway can vote at the district's administration building, at 10 Farmingdale Rd. Residents living north of Sunrise Highway can vote at Santapogue Elementary School, 1130 Herzel Blvd.

Polls in Shoreham-Wading River are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the high school, 250A Route 25A, Shoreham.

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