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Mattituck-Cutchogue school district begins planning capital project

Mattituck-Cutchogue school district officials have begun preliminary discussions on how to spend $3.7 million in reserve funding on repairs, renovations and improvements throughout the district.

As they identify projects, they are seeking input from community stakeholders.

“One of the things that was clearly pointed out was the bathrooms. If you come to our games, especially the ladies room is not that appealing,” said business and operations administrator Kevin Coffey, who is helping to lead discussions on the project.

Mr. Coffey and Superintendent Jill Gierasch attended a Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association meeting Monday night to outline potential expenditures for the capital reserve.

According to Mr. Coffey, community members and parents have expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of air conditioning in communal spaces, such as auditoriums and cafeterias.

Security improvements are a top concern among students, staff, parents and the community alike, Mr. Coffey said, adding, “It’s unfortunate; it’s the world we live in today.”

Only administrators have weighed in so far on how to best spend the money. Security improvements, including new doors, locks with key swipe systems and security film on windows top high-priority lists at both the high school and Cutchogue East Elementary.

Administrators have broken down close to 50 potential projects into three lists: a high priority list that addresses issues that impede instruction and would enhance health, safety and student instruction, a “B-list” of areas that need attention, but not immediately, and a wish list.

Ms. Gierasch said more sophisticated and secure doors could allow for lockdown at the push of a button. 

“If there was a situation the teacher would not have to fumble to get the key and lock the door,” she said, adding that many school districts have already instituted the technology.

“I know it sounds like, oh gosh we’re spending money on doors. But it’s a safety issue. In some instances, we don’t even have the keys for some of the doors” that are original to the high school building, she said.

Other projects identified as high priorities are improving a handicap ramp for auditorium access at the high school, upgrading locker rooms and bathrooms in the high school gymnasium and installing air conditioning in cafeterias at both schools.

Projects on the “B List” include technology infrastructure upgrades, a new PA system and new clocks at both schools and roof and floors repairs and upgraded water fountains at the elementary school 

Larger goals, such as stadium lighting, a field renovation and solar panels, are a part of the district’s long-term “wish list.”

“You can’t do all 50. We’ll work on prioritizing this list,” Mr. Coffey said.

Ms. Gierasch said that a focus should be kept on maintaining existing facilities. “You have such beautiful facilities here. We really need to maintain them and keep them up to date,” she said. 

The process will continue through 2019 as the Board of Education finalizes the budget.

Officials also plan to meet with the Mattituck-Cutchogue Teachers Association, CSEA, the Parent-Teacher Association, the Booster Club and other community groups for input on the projects.

District residents must ultimately vote to approve any projects that will be funded under the reserve.

The capital reserve fund was established by voters last May and cannot exceed $6 million over a term of 10 years, according to Mr. Coffey. 

It was originally funded with $3 million, including $2.5 million from the employee retirement reserve and $500,000 from the unemployment reserve. Another $750,000 was funded this year. 

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