ARE STREAM LABS REPLACING LIBRARIES IN THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS, SILAS AND STIMSON?
Absolutely not. STREAM labs in the elementary schools, in Silas and in Stimson will be part of those schools’ library media centers. STREAM labs, which expand on the original STEM concept to include research and the arts (Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Arts, Math), will provide students enhanced learning tools and collaborative study opportunities to better engage with studies that are increasingly cross-curricula in nature.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROCESS AND STEPS TAKEN IN DEVELOPING THE PROPOSED 2019 BOND REFERENDUM?
The proposed 2019 Bond Referendum was developed over the past 18-20 months through an open and collaborative process involving all segments of the South Huntington community and the District. Input was provided by the District’s facilities committee; individual building committees comprised of administrators, teachers and parents; and the District’s engineering and architectural consultants, H2M Architects and Engineers. During this process, presentations were also made at numerous Board meetings, where community reaction and input was provided to the Board. Based on the totality of input from these numerous sources, the Board mapped out the final bond plan that is being presented to the community for a vote on October 7, 2019.
WHAT LED TO THE DECISION TO SCHEDULE A BOND REFERENDUM NOW?
Since 2013, the District has been managing facilities needs through “Transfer to Capital” spending. However, this approach limits the amount of work that can be done, and with lower state aid and tax cap restrictions, is unsustainable. Many building systems in the District, such as roofs, windows, masonry, floor and wall tiles, classroom casework and bathrooms, have reached or exceeded their lifespan expectancies, and should be replaced. Funding with a bond allows the District to address these infrastructure needs in the most expedient and cost-effective manner. Using bonds to fund the many academic, security, safety and health measures proposed would also allow the District to achieve the transformational vision this bond plan represents, while leveraging today’s extremely favorable interest rates, helping to mitigate the future tax impact of an approved referendum.
BASED ON THE PROPOSED BOND SCOPE, HOW WILL EACH SCHOOL IN THE DISTRICT BENEFIT?
The proposed 2019 bond referendum provides for investment in Districtwide academics, arts and research; security, safety and health; athletic, co-curricular and community; and infrastructure improvements. Forward-thinking STREAM (Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Arts, Math) Labs will be integrated into elementary, Silas and Stimson library media centers to enhance learning, collaboration and the integration of material in cross-curricular studies. Forums at the middle school and high school will be modeled after college-level forum halls, incorporating flexible learning spaces and presentation formats. Next-generation science labs, a marine biology research center and a cyber-security lab will expand high school curriculum options. A Life Skills PAES lab at Stimson will enhance the special education curriculum.
And music and art programs districtwide will benefit from new and expanded performance spaces and art galleries.
The proposal for 13 new turf fields and the reconfiguration of many of the fields for multi-purpose use will benefit District activities as well as expand opportunities for community use and entertainment.
Security measures across the District proposed in the bond scope include new security vestibules, updated PA and fire alarm systems, security cameras in buses, and automatic door locks on classroom doors. Infrastructure needs, such as roofs, windows, masonry and floor and ceiling tiles that have reached or past lifetime expectancies would be replaced.
HOW ARE SUSTAINABILITY CONSIDERATIONS BEING ADDRESSED IN THE PROPOSED BOND SCOPE?
The District’s architecture and engineering consultants, H2M Architects and Engineers, intend to employ many eco-friendly principles when developing construction plans, both in materials selection and interconnected component design. For example, new materials would be low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) and sustainable products, including adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, flooring and wood products (casework and furniture). All new lighting will be high efficiency LED.
WILL ANY OF THE PROJECTS PROPOSED IN THE BOND SCOPE INTERFERE WITH CLASSES AT ANY OF OUR SCHOOLS?
No class time will be interrupted or cancelled due to construction or other work being performed. Construction crews and other contractors’ work shifts for interior projects will be concentrated during summer months and other times when school is not in session. If any interior work is to be done during the school year, work shifts will be scheduled during weekends, evenings and other times when interior building spaces are unoccupied.
WHAT SAFETY MEASURES WILL BE TAKEN DURING EXTERIOR CONSTRUCTION DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR TO SAFEGUARD CHILDREN, BUILDING PERSONNEL AND SCHOOL VISITORS?
State Education Department (SED) guidelines must be followed when performing work within any school facility. All capital construction projects require a building permit issued by the SED. The importance of a building permit is to ensure that the work will be done properly to preserve the health and safety of a facility’s occupants or users. In addition, a project construction manager will be on site during all phases of construction to ensure safety measures are strictly adhered to at all times.
WITH SOME OF THE OLDER DISTRICT BUILDINGS, LEAD PAINT OR ASBESTOS CAN BE A CONCERN. HOW WILL LEAD PAINT AND ASBESTOS ABATEMENT BE ADDRESSED?
Asbestos abatement must be conducted in accordance with NYS Industrial Code Rule 56 as well as Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requirements. These regulations require very specific licensing, notifications, work area preparation, isolation barriers, abatement and waste disposal procedures. The guidelines also require independent third-party air sampling and analysis, including pre-abatement air sampling, work area prep air sampling, asbestos handling air sampling and final clearance air sampling. All samples would be taken by the District’s independent environmental consultant and sent to a NYS certified laboratory for analysis. The District’s environmental consultant would also ensure that all abatement procedures are performed in accordance with code.
Lead paint abatement must be conducted in accordance with SED requirements using established HUD guidelines, EPA Regulations 40 CFR Part 745 and OSHA Regulations. They require very specific licensing, notifications, work area preparation, isolation barriers, abatement and waste disposal procedures. Also required is independent third-party lead wipe or soil sampling and analysis. All samples would be taken by the District’s independent environmental consultant and sent to an ELAP or NLAP approved testing laboratory. The District’s environmental consultant would also ensure that all abatement procedures are performed in accordance with code.
WHY WAS AIR CONDITIONING PROPOSED AS A SEPARATE PROPOSITION, CONTINGENT ON APPROVAL OF PROPOSITION 1, WHICH ENCOMPASSES ALL OTHER PROPOSED PROJECTS?
During the 18-20 month planning process that led to the final details of the proposed bond plan, air conditioning was an issue that was often times discussed. In fact, a significant number of the district and community members involved in the planning process expressed a desire to have districtwide air conditioning included in any final bond plan. However, there were other members who felt because of the cost of this one initiative, it should be offered as a separate proposition, giving the community a choice apart from a primary proposition (Proposition 1) that would address academic, security, athletic/community and infrastructure needs. After many discussions, the decision was made to address air conditioning as a second proposition that could only be approved contingent on Proposition 1 being approved by the community.
HOW MUCH WILL AN APPROVED BOND REFERENDUM COST TAXPAYERS?
The District will issue a series of 15-year bonds over the course of seven years to cover the costs of the proposed bond projects. It is estimated all work proposed in the bond plan will be completed within a seven year period. If the bond is approved, the total costs of the bond plan will be offset by state aid reimbursement as described below.
Each year over the first seven years, there will be a tax increase related to that year’s bond issue. After the first seven years, the annual bond-related tax impact will remain constant for eight years. Starting in year 16, the tax impact will gradually decrease until all bonds are retired in year 21. The charts below illustrate the tax impact on three home values representative of the different homes in the South Huntington community. The charts are based on the estimated current interest rate of 2.5%, incorporating the cost-savings to be realized from state aid reimbursement tax offsets.
Click chart to enlarge
* Proposition 2 can only be approved if Proposition 1 is approved.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT STATE AID REIMBURSEMENT FOR CAPITAL PROJECTS
The tax impact charts above represent the significant cost savings that will be realized by the District from state aid reimbursement. Based on information the District has received from its architects and NY state aid specialists, 92 percent of all projects proposed in Proposition 1 and Proposition 2 will be eligible for the District’s 54 percent state aid reimbursement rate.
What does this mean for the South Huntington community?
With 92 percent of all projects being eligible for state aid reimbursement at a 54 percent reimbursement rate, the District will be reimbursed $57,032,887 on the total cost of the bond plan. These cost-savings significantly lower the tax impact on South Huntington taxpayers.