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Sewanhaka weighs borrowing for building, field upgrades

New Hyde Park Memorial High School

New Hyde Park Memorial High School Credit: Amra Radoncic

The Sewanhaka Central High School District board of education is considering a bond referendum on a proposed plan to spend between $92.65 million and $102.15 million to upgrade seven aging school buildings and several sporting fields.

The school board plans to hold a special meeting on Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. at Sewanhaka High School to discuss the potential bond referendum that could be put to the district's voters in December.

The proposal calls for new cafeterias, auditoriums, gyms and weight rooms. It also includes improving turf fields, security and technology upgrades, as well as renovating heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

School district Superintendent Ralph Ferrie said the board, at its October meeting, "will be reviewing and taking any final action" on a possible referendum.

Felix Procacci, of Franklin Square, a parent of an incoming seventh-grader, criticized the board for not scheduling a bond referendum on Election Day, Nov. 5. He said that would have saved the district money and led to a larger voter turnout.

"The fact that the board was even considering a referendum in mid-December is very troubling," said Procacci, who is running for Hempstead Town supervisor. At least 45 days' notice is required to place a notice about the referendum in local newspapers.

An ad hoc committee on facilities, created in October 2012, reviewed the district's facilities and presented the proposal to the board in June.

The committee found that Sewanhaka High School -- built in 1929 -- needs $31.1 million in upgrades. Floral Park Memorial High School (1956) needs from $20.78 million to $28.28 million in upgrades.

The 1955-built New Hyde Park Memorial High School needs $12.14 million. Elmont Memorial High School -- built in 1955 -- needs from $13.72 million to $15.72 million in repairs. H. Frank Carey High School (1955) requires $12.76 million in upgrades, according to the proposal.

The committee also proposed refurbishing the Alva T. Stanforth Sports Complex, next to the Elmont Public Library, with three soccer fields and two baseball fields that would cost $1.5 million. Two vocational buildings, one built in 1941 and the other in 1959, would also need to be renovated for $646,000.

"These are aging buildings that have a great need for capital improvements," board president David T. Fowler said. "With a two-percent tax cap, the only way to address them is through a bond issue."On Aug. 27, the board approved an agreement with Great Neck-based Capital Markers Advisors, LLC, to provide financial advisory services related to the building upgrades. The board also approved an amended agreement with Hauppauge-based VHB Engineering, Surveying and Landscape Architecture PC to provide environmental planning.

"The board is now starting to assemble the team in an advisory capacity," Ferrie said.

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