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Sewanhaka school district considers going back to voters on bond referendum for repairs

Rendering of the new Sewanhaka Central High School.

Rendering of the new Sewanhaka Central High School. Credit: Handout

Sewanhaka Central High School District officials are considering going back to the voters who rejected them, trying again to win funding to repair seven school buildings and several sports fields.

Voters in December killed, 2,705-to-2,412, a $99.51 million bond referendum.

Officials "are looking at a variety of options at this time," said Superintendent Ralph P. Ferrie, whose all-high-school district serves about 8,500 students in Floral Park, Bellerose, New Hyde Park, Garden City Park, Franklin Square and Elmont. "The work has to be done," he said. "It is a matter of going back and seeing what the community would approve."

One option under consideration by the district's ad hoc committee on facilities is putting the original referendum proposal up for another vote. It also is evaluating $84.28 million and $87.03 million proposals that would cover fewer repairs, and an $18.75 million option for a field house and an indoor pool that could be added to any accepted plan, according to a district memo.

The original proposal called for funds to renovate two vocational buildings and five high schools: Sewanhaka, Floral Park Memorial, Elmont Memorial, New Hyde Park Memorial and H. Frank Carey. It would also have upgraded athletic facilities at all those schools and at the Alva T. Stanforth Sports Complex.

It called for new cafeterias, auditoriums, gyms and weight rooms. The money also would have been used to repair leaky roofs and make security and technology upgrades. The average district homeowner tax increase would have been $144.26, officials said.

The committee met last month to consider nonnegotiable items such as installing air-conditioning in the five school auditoriums, replacing heating ventilation systems, repairing roofs, improving athletic facilities and upgrading security.

The committee, created in October 2012, attributed the bond referendum defeat to poor voter turnout and the costs to taxpayers in a still-weak local economy.

But opponents of the original bond proposal said parts of the plan weren't needed.

"Your school buildings are falling apart. Fix the problems, don't add luxury," said Pat Nicolosi, president of the Elmont East End Civic Association. "If you're going to add a pool or air conditioners, understand the impacts on your budget."

Committee member Felix Procacci of Franklin Square supports making major repairs. "The proposals should be shown to residents prior to the board making a decision as to which option should be put up for a vote," Procacci said.

He added the new referendum should be held during the May 20 school budget vote or the November statewide election to maximize turnout.

Another committee meeting is slated for 7 p.m. March 4 in Sewanhaka High School. The school board will meet at 8 p.m. March 25 when the plan is to be presented.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly characterized the status of the options being considered.

Sewanhaka Central High School District

Sewanhaka High School
Built: 1929
Location: 500 Tulip Ave. in Floral Park.
Students: 1,613

Floral Park Memorial High School
Built: 1956
Location: 210 Locust St. in Floral Park.
Students: 1,437

Elmont Memorial High School
Built: 1955
Location: 555 Ridge Rd. in Elmont.
Students: 1,814

New Hyde Park Memorial High School
Built: 1955
Location: 500 Leonard Blvd. in New Hyde Park.
Students: 1,670

H. Frank Carey High School
Built: 1955
Location: 230 Poppy Ave. in Franklin Square.
Students: 1,712

Source: Sewanhaka Central High School District


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