New capital projects recommended for Manhasset schools

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Facilities Director Armand Markarian presents the proposed capital improvements plan to the Manhasset Board of Education. (Photo by Samuel Glasser)

By Samuel Glasser

As the Manhasset school district’s construction projects from the 2014 bond issue wind down, there are several other capital improvement projects that should be considered, the Board of Education was told at its meeting Thursday.

The district’s $22.6 million in capital projects was funded with $19 million from the bond issue and the remainder from other sources, including the district’s capital reserve fund.

As the last of the projects are nearing completion, approximately $1.5 million is unspent, including $643,000 from the bond, Deputy Superintendent for Business and Finance Rosemary Johnson said.

District Facilities Director Armand Markarian noted that the bond issue proposition said that if money was left over, there were three additional projects that should be considered: replacing the asphalt for the parking lots and driveways at the secondary school campus, replacing the last of the secondary school exterior doors, which are past their useful life, and refurbishing bathrooms, mainly in the elementary schools.

The state Education Department must approve any capital projects, and Markarian said proposals for the doors and asphalt work would be submitted to the state next week, in advance of board approval, to be eligible for state aid and to get in the queue at the Education Department, which now stands at 40 weeks. The proposals for the bathrooms would likely be submitted over the summer.

At the same time, Markarian and John Grillo, the district architect, recommended that the board consider a list of 24 additional projects. These include 12 that did not make the cut for the bond issue such as replacing ceilings and lighting at all of the schools, converting space at Munsey Park Elementary School now used for storage to instructional space and refurbishing the auditorium seats, and replacing the tennis court asphalt at the secondary school.

Additionally, he listed new district-wide projects for consideration, including upgrades to fire and burglar alarm systems and LED lighting, security vestibules, air conditioning options at the various buildings and athletic field upgrades. Also, new boilers and related equipment at Munsey Park and a security booth for the secondary school campus.

Projects would be funded from the district capital reserve fund and would be prioritized by need, cost and school. No cost estimates were given at Thursday’s meeting.

Johnson explained that the district’s $10 million capital reserve fund, which is separate from any bond issue, is authorized by the voters and is funded over a 10-year period. Expenditures from the fund also must be approved by referendum.

Superintendent Vincent Butera noted that in light of the recent mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, there has been increasing attention to school safety. He recently met with parents, school principals and safety professionals and said a presentation on safety will be made at an upcoming board meeting.

Trustee Carlo Prinzo asked if grant money was available for security upgrades, and Johnson said that the state has made funds available for certain items such as cameras.

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