Great Neck BOE finalizes new bond proposal

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The Great Neck Board of Education finalized a $68.3 million bond proposal on Monday, sending it to the voters for a decision on May 16.

The board acted after voters on Feb. 14 narrowly rejected a proposed $85.9 million bond referendum.

After that vote, board President Barbara Berkowitz said the “prevalent comment” the board heard from members of the community was that the bond was too large.

The new bond is being issued to help pay for critical projects and building enhancements across Great Neck public schools. The total cost of renovations will be $77,847,217, with about $9.5 million being drawn from the district’s reserve funds.

A homeowner with a house worth $750,000 could expect a $203.63 rise in annual taxes, while a $1 million home would see a $271.50 increase, school officials said.

About $51.7 million will go toward critical projects, which include roof replacements, masonry reconstruction, and window and door replacements. John Powell, assistant superintendent for business, said the schools must get these projects done soon.

“Any increase in taxes is a big deal,” Powell said. “However, we are reaching a point where projects have to get done.”

Another $26.1 million goes towards educational and building enhancements, focusing on science labs, auditorium renovations at E.M. Baker School and various other upgrades. Powell described those projects as pivotal, too.

“They are necessary enhancements to keep us on the cutting edge of instruction and make us in a better position to teach the curriculum,” Powell said.

The project may take a few years to complete.

“We’re only going to do the construction during times when students aren’t in school so it’s the least disruptive,” said Jessica Vega, public relations coordinator for the school district. “It may take six or eight months, but it’s going to be spread over two or three years.”

Vega also said that prices are based on years of experience by the architects who frequently work with the district.

“It’s all built into the cost,” Vega said. “The final bid might come in for less than what they’re estimating. It will not be more than what’s estimated.”

The bond is about $17.5 million less than the previous bond that was defeated in February.

Powell said that, this time around, he is optimistic it will pass.

“The shock of something so important being defeated has reached a lot of people in the community,” Powell said. “I believe with the reductions we have made, people will interpret that to mean we are listening to what the community is saying.”

More bond proposal information can be found on the Great Neck Public Schools website.

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