Trustees cite building needs before vote

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With Mineola voters to go to the polls on Tuesday, Mineola school officials are stressing the importance of moving ahead with the $3.8 million in repairs to district buildings called for in the referendum with the use of capital reserve funds.

“The work is long overdue. We have buildings that water gets into and water is destructive,” said Artie Barnett, president of the Mineola Board of Education. “Year after year, our custodians are patching up ceilings and paint and it’s only going to recur until the repairs are done.”

Barnett said the piecemeal fashion that he said the school district has been making in recent years have not solved the problems.

“We’re looking at very old infrastructure and because of the expense, we have not tackled it,” he said.

The school board trustees unanimously approved the Nov. 19 referendum for district residents at a September board meeting. 

At the meeting, Mineola Superintendent of Schools Michael Nagler said among the district’s urgent needs were the replacement of windows and doors and bricking pointing at all buildings, including the former Cross Street School, installation of ventilators to allow the installation of air conditioning at the Hampton Street and Meadow Drive schools, and a new boiler at Mineola High School.

In a presentation at that meeting, Nagler showed pictures of window lintels rusting, which he said could compromise the support for bricks above them. He also showed cracked bricks which would need to be replaced.

Nagler said he thinks the replacement of windows and doors could be done in the fall and winter of 2014. 

“The money will be spent on major capital work that has been identified as problematic for the last 10 years,” Nagler said this week.

“There is a limit as to how many times you can patch up your infrastructure. The money is well spent and more importantly, it was saved,” Mineola school board Vice President Christine Napolitano said. 

A second proposition on next week’s referendum provides for establishment of a capital reserve fund of up to $15 million through 2020 for future district needs.

“We’re merely making a bigger piggy bank and not putting anything in it. But we don’t know what’s coming down the pike in the next few years,” Barnett said.

Napolitano said both parts of the referendum address the commitment of Nagler and the board trustees “to aggressively plan for the future with a keen eye on spending taxpayers’ hard-earned money wisely.”

Nagler said establishing the $15 million ceiling on the capital reserve fund will enable the school district to avoid incurring additional financial obligations for the district. 

“By increasing the amount of money we can save we are hopeful that we can meet all of our capital needs in the future without borrowing money and incurring future debt,” he said.

Voting on the referendum will take place on Nov. 19 at the Jackson Avenue and Meadow Drive schools from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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