$69.9 million dollar bond proposed: Administration and residents share concerns over the passing of the maintenance-focused bond

Timothy Serignese, Staff Writer

On Jan. 13, the Board of Education presided over a meeting to discuss the proposed $69.9 Million Dollar Bond for renovations, upgrades, and new facilities for the district.

Despite concerns from meeting attendees, the Board voted unanimously in support of the bond. If voters approve it on March 10, a maximum of $70 million may be borrowed over a seven-year period and paid back over a period of 20 years.

The proposed bond will address the need for major repairs and renovations, future enrollment projections, the demands of the district’s more rigorous curriculum, and the necessity to expand technology within the buildings.

If it passes, $36 million will be used to create new spaces across the district to alleviate overcrowding. This will also include maintenance and repairs of existing school buildings, such as fixing of ceilings, proper cleaning of school hallways, installation of heat and air conditioning, and extermination of Schreiber and Weber’s roach population.

$2.6 million will go toward upgrading district technology including increasing the number of SMART boards in school, $5.2 million will go toward athletics with the construction of two multipurpose turf fields among other things, $3.7 million will go toward the formation and renovation of at least one science lab at each elementary school, and $1.6 million will go toward the various security upgrades needed throughout the district.

“The school definitely needs facility improvement,” said senior Josh Curtis.  “The addition of chrome books and 3D printers, which were from grants, were good additions. I look forward to expanding elementary school science programs, as well as those in the high school. Such components of the bond as expanding the cafeteria—with a stairway to the commons—and expanding the tech department to replace the engineering portable are additions I think all Schreiber students can proudly get behind.”

A majority of the taxpayers who attended voiced concerns over the size of the bond and the overall use of the money.  A lot of the comments veered toward accusations of misappropriation of funds and larcenous intentions of the school board.

E-mails were sent to members of the board accusing them of leaving community members out of the process of designing the bond.

“That is completely false,” said Board member Mr. William Hohauser. “It is incredibly disrespectful for the people to say we haven’t invited participation from the community.”

The Board is facing dissent from the tax base because of the size of the bond and how it is being communicated.

“Some criticize the bond for being a ‘maintenance bond,’ including items of repair that should be in the budget,” said Curtis.  “I scoff at these claims seeing how the budget has been held down over the past few years.”

A common theme was that current problems such as improper heating, leaking and cracked walls, broken auditorium seats and the like are purely maintenance issues, and do not need $70 million to remedy.

“We need to get away from the idea that this is about patching roofs,” said Board member Mr. Baer. “Port Washington is one of only four districts that have had increasing student enrollment since 1994.”

It is apparent that there was a lack of communication between the public and trustees.

“There are two issues,” said Curtis. “One, a good infrastructure bond is nothing without a good budget to pay for the programs to use them; two, unless supporting members of the community vote on March 10, the bond will not pass.”