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Voters Reject $99.5M Sewanhaka Bond

Bond fails by less than 300 votes.

An artistic rendering of a proposed new wing at the rear of Sewanhaka High School. Photo credit: Courtesy Sewanhaka High School
An artistic rendering of a proposed new wing at the rear of Sewanhaka High School. Photo credit: Courtesy Sewanhaka High School
A proposed $99.5 million bond for the Sewanhaka Central High School District was turned down by voters Wednesday by less than 300 votes.

"It's disappointing that the community didn't support it," said Joan Romagnoli, the New Hyde Park representative on the Sewanhaka School Board.

The initial unofficial tally given to Patch was 2,205 in favor of the bond to 2,428 against. However, numbers posted on the district indicated that the bond failed 2,412-2,705.

Three of the four component districts voted against the measure: New Hyde Park-Garden City Park, Franklin Square and Elmont, while Floral Park/Bellerose was the only community in favor of the bond.

The bond, which totaled $99,511,321, would have seen major renovations to each of the component high schools' auditoriums, new synthetic turf athletic fields, new roofs, security upgrades, brick pointing, technology and in the case of Sewanhaka High School itself, a new wing on the southwest corner.

New Hyde Park Memorial High School was slated to receive $14.1 million in projects including a renovated auditorium with climate control, the aforementioned refurbished athletic fields, a new gym ceiling, roof work, a refurbished fitness room and security upgrades.

About 40 percent of the bond was projected to qualify for state aid, with the average tax levy increase each homeowner would see projected at $144.26 and phased in over three to four 

Sewanhaka Superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie declined to comment Wednesday night.

The results by community are as follows:

District                                                 Yes                    No
Elmont                                                  427                   586
Floral Park/Bellerose                             1,111                  954
Franklin Square                                      527                  551
New Hyde Park-Garden City Park              347                  614

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Bob Rabey December 05, 2013 at 02:28 AM
I think it sad that out of 6 towns, so few people actually voted. I also wonder just how much padding went into previous school budgets for things like "new roofs and brick pointing", that they felt that they needed to float a special bond?? To get these questions answered, people should actually attend some of these school budget hearings. Yet sadly, almost none actually attend.
Chris Wendt December 05, 2013 at 07:02 AM
This proposition should have been voted upon during the May School Budget Vote and Board of Education Election, either last May or next May. ........................................................................................................ Instead of having spent so much money on salaries and raises, the Board of Education should have allocated and SPENT some of it for roof repairs and brick pointing.
Tommy Crenshaw December 05, 2013 at 07:34 AM
I knew when I walked into Manor Oaks to vote and I was the only one there that it was not going to pass. Too bad. Sooner or later the Glads football program is going to turn around and it would have been nice to watch them play on a beautiful turf field. Oh well. Oh, and of course improvements to the school would raise out home values but no one ever considers that. Shame.
TJ Jones December 05, 2013 at 02:06 PM
It's sad, to have the ability to update our school systems, to allow the kids to have something to be proud of, to bring the system into the next century so our children have the tools to excel, and to have such little turnout & to NOT act on our abilities to approve such request. That is SAD.
Chris Wendt December 06, 2013 at 06:33 AM
Please STOP! the lamenting. Words like sad or "SAD" and "Shame" are totally inappropriate for the results of a public vote. If you wanted the proposition to have passed, then "dissapointed" would be the correct word. But what you should be most disappointed about is the fact that your school board tried to sneak this past district taxpayers by voting it in December, incurring unnecessary extra costs, instead of voting it either last May or next May on the ballot right alongside the School Budget Vote and Board of Education Election. ..................................................................................................... Nothing prevented supporters of this proposition from campaigning hard to get voter turnout and generate favorable results. Nothing except the general word that was out NOT to make too much noise, so as NOT to attract more "no" voters than actually showed-up. ..................................................................................................... WARNING! This type of (December) bond defeat sometimes presages a budget defeat in the following election (May, 2014) as some taxpayers will resent having been hoodwinked by this out-of-period attempt to pass a bond that was not voted alongside their budget.
Tommy Crenshaw December 06, 2013 at 07:22 AM
What's sad is that someone intelligent enough to use the word presages believes that this vote was sneaky. I read about it many times in the local publications and received a color brochure in the mail detailing the improvements with pictures of the new turf fields. The older residents who don't give a rat's patoot about anything other than their taxes will always vote down anything where their taxes might go up. Time to move to Florida.
Christopher Wendt December 07, 2013 at 08:55 AM
The "SNEAKY" parts of this vote were (1) this spending was both excluded all prior budget votes (the costs had been amassed by the BoE behind the curtain) and the plan to borrow a hundred million plus interest was not apparent when SCHSD voters pulled the lever to pass the budget in May (2) Take fifteen minutes and tally-up the spending by category in the Bond Presentation on the District's website: $15.41 Million for...ATHLETIC FIELDS? ..................................................................................................... To better understand the sneaky aspect of this, consider that spending a hundred million dollars plus interest should have been split out into three or four separate Propositions on the Ballot, and NOT by school, but by CATEGORY. I promise you that at least SOME of your bond would have passed on Wednesday, the real "CRITICAL" stuff for sure. But no, the sneaky, single lump-sum proposition was killed altogether, taking down the fluff and the critical stuff along with it. Now you are left with worse than nothing. ..................................................................................................... Worse than nothing? Yes, because you must now take the real "CRITICAL" items and put them into your school budget vote this coming May, and possibly run afoul of the Tax Cap, or, possibly risk having your 2014-15 budget defeated. THAT would be a terrible price to pay for trying to sneak $15.41 MILLION PLUS INTEREST for athletic fields past your voters the past Wednesday.
Tommy Crenshaw December 07, 2013 at 09:30 AM
It appears that what is really bothering you is the fact that the student/athletes in school district would have beautiful athletic fields for years to come. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to watch our Glads get on the horrible dirt and rock "field" that they have.
Christopher Wendt December 07, 2013 at 08:29 PM
What should be bothering you, as a supporter of synthetic turf fields for your district, is the fact that the district attempted to put this over on their voters, with the result being defeat. How you think I feel, or what you think is bothering me is of no consequence in this. If you still want artificial turf fields, then put them up in a bond proposition in May, 2015, on the same ballot with your school budget. And in the meanwhile, get your maintenance people to attend to some of the neglected and deferred maintenance items in the 2014-15 budget. ..................................................................................................... The fact that it is now 2013, almost 2014, and the Sewanhaka Central High School Districts still has asbestos in the schools waiting for a bond to be approved for abatement is a clear indication of upside-down priorities on the part of your central administration and/or Board of Education. I will bet nobody working for the SCHSD has gone without raises for all these years your schools have harbored that asbestos. And I know that your administration and Board have known about the asbestos for at least ten years, probably much longer. ..................................................................................................... Tax-paying voters are no longer ignorant about receiving value for their tax dollars. All the taxes they have paid over the years and you still have asbestos in the schools? Better stewardship over both the money and the facilities is sorely in need.
Phil McCracken December 08, 2013 at 06:16 AM
Chris I could not have said it better. You sir are on the money with everything you have posted. Kudos my friend.

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