At its Jan. 14 meeting, the North Bellmore Board of Education announced it would put up another bond referendum vote in hopes of financing upgrades and replacements within the district's facilities.
The vote, which will take place on Wednesday, March 24 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Newbridge Road School, was described by Superintendent Arnold Goldstein as involving "critical health and safety projects with almost no tax levy to the residents." The $8.8 million bond is considerably less the $38 million one put up in 2008. That referendum was defeated by 85 votes.
"We have six old and very large buildings that require a lot of maintenance," Goldstein added. "We can't afford to wait for something to break and we won't be able to afford them if we don't save for them."
Goldstein further explained that the work would need to be done either through a bond or the budget.
"The bond will cost us less than adding it to the budget," Goldstein said. "The board is mindful of the current economic situation, and I think we all realize we can't postpone this any longer."
A bond issue is a way to borrow money to fund capital projects. It allows districts to maximize the number of capital improvements in as short of a period of time as possible.
- The most costly items include replacing boilers in four buildings. The boilers at Park Avenue, Martin Avenue and Saw Mill Road are all 50 years old and the one at Newbridge Road is 30 years old. The boiler replacement at Newbridge Road is going to be the most expensive - $3.6 million - as it involves changing over from a steam system.
- Replacing asbestos floor tiles in all buildings.
- Installing new interior and exterior doors and locks in classrooms, gyms and cafeterias. Most of these are original to the buildings. A new mandating locking system will be installed.
- A major electrical upgrade at Dinkelmeyer.
- Chimney pointing at Martin Avenue.
- Installing fire rated doors at Newbridge Road.
"There's no fluff here," added Goldstein. "If you do a bond, you can begin work immediately upon approval."
In terms of paying back the $8.8 million bond, Goldstein said it wouldn't impact the district until 2011/12.
"Interest rates are at historically low levels," he added. "It should be approximately a wash."
The district is retiring $430,000 in debt this year and they are banking on receiving 54 percent of the total in state aid over the life of the projects, which is expected to be 15 years according to Toni Ann Cincotta, assistant to the superintendent.
"We expect to receive 315,000 a year in state aid," added Cincotta.
North Bellmore can use these funds only for the voter-approved bond referendum. This requires voter approval. All residents registered to vote in the North Bellmore School District are eligible to vote on this proposition. The district plans on holding several information meetings in the next few weeks.
"We're really going to need the support of the community," Goldstein said.
Upcoming Bond Workshops
- Tuesday, March 2: 6:30 p.m. at Dinkelmeyer and 8 p.m. at Gunther
- Thursday, March 4: 6:30 p.m. at Newbridge Road and 8 p.m. at Saw Mill Road
- Wednesday, March 10: 6:30 p.m. at Martin Avenue and 8 p.m. at Park Avenue
- A Bond Fair will be held on March 16 from 6 to 8 p.m at Newbridge Road School.