Manhasset schools to spend $389k on repairs this summer

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Outgoing student member of the Manhasset Board of Educaiton Cara Kurkjian and next year's student member Sydney Ginsburg. (Photo by Teri West)

The Manhasset school district will undertake about $389,000 worth of facilities repair work this summer that will address leaks, lighting and issues in heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, said Rosemary Johnson, the district’s deputy superintendent for business and finance, last Thursday.

It will invest some $200,000 in additional security features to be installed in each of the district’s three schools.

Per Homeland Securities recommendations, there will be new strobe lights installed in large rooms such as gymnasiums and auditoriums as well as on building exteriors.

Door alarms will also be changing. In the secondary school, alarms will be installed on some doors to trigger a noise after they are left open for a certain number of seconds.

“Typically you will find a pencil in a door, a rock in a door,” Johnson said. “It’s dangerous, and so this will set off an alarm.”

Elementary school door alarms will have a more immediate alert system.

Three of the maintenance projects require asbestos abatement. One of them, for example, is hallway tiling in Shelter Rock Elementary School that needs to be replaced because it contains asbestos, Johnson said.

There are 10 heating, ventilation and air-conditioning related issues across the three schools that will be addressed.

At the secondary school, there will also be a new lighting fixture installed at the main entrance, an area that Johnson said is too dark.

Johnson is projecting that the district will end the school year with a $1.7 million fund balance. Of that, $595,120 will be devoted to the 2019-20 tax levy and $811,000 will support the creation of a new social-emotional learning wing in the secondary school, a project that district voters approved to receive capital reserve funding as well as additional money from the balance and a donation.

Superintendent Vincent Butera said he will be meeting with Brookfield Properties representatives and Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth about a proposed multi-use development on the Northern Boulevard Macy’s site.

Brookfield Properties and Macy’s have not yet submitted an official application to the town, but have revealed plans that include 355 rental units across three apartment buildings.

Butera said that in a prior meeting with Brookfield Properties, the company did not have a projection for how many students the apartments might add to the school district.

The company had previously told Blank Slate Media that the rentals would be designed to attract young professionals and empty-nesters.

One resident attended the school board meeting to speak about the development, urging the board to create a committee to begin investigating the issue. The development would undoubtedly attract renters with children, drawn to Manhasset because of the school district, he said.

“It’s an easy entry to the school district where Brookfield will essentially be auctioning off an education, a Manhasset school district education, to the highest bidder, pocketing it themselves,” the resident, Eric Linder, said.

The board said that while it was investigating the issue, it was not eager to “overreact,” which Linder said would be the best strategy for a school district that is already at capacity.

“We monitor what goes on in the community,” Butera said. “Obviously, that does impact us which is the reason why we reached out and said we wanted to speak with the developers and they gladly came in and they met with us. I’m in a position generally to not overreact at first.”

Last Thursday’s Board of Education meeting, the night before high school graduation, marked the last for student member of the board Cara Kurkjian. Next year, Sydney Ginsburg will be taking her seat.

Kurkjian was thrilled to learn she could take her name plaque with her to college.

“You brought a sparkle to the table, which was really really refreshing for us,” said board President Regina Rule.

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