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Greenport teachers ask school board not to make further cuts to $17.1M bond

As the Greenport school board narrows down its vision of the revamped Capital Improvement Bond, the district’s teachers association is cautioning the administration to avoid gutting the $17.1 million proposal. 

GTA president Rebecca Lillis addressed the board and superintendent David Gamberg on behalf of her union’s members at a joint work session and school board meeting Wednesday.

“I know you’re trying to crunch money and I know you’re trying to be very conscious with taxpayers in the district,” Ms. Lillis said. “But remember, we’re here for our students and I want you to try to give them the best you possibly can.”

A second-generation Greenport teacher, Ms. Lillis said the GTA supports the decision to move administrative offices near the front of the school as a safety precaution. It’s also more efficient for emergency responders, she said.

“Every day, teachers ask students to try their best and give it their all,” Ms. Lillis said. “Now I’m asking you all to do the same. Think about our students and give them the best that we can give them.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, Mr. Gamberg gave an update on the current plan, which is being proposed following a June 26 vote that saw taxpayers reject a $23.8 million bond measure by just 23 votes. The superintendent shared with the community a list of district needs that was compiled one year ago as the administration began planning the initial referendum.

“This was the very first rough list that then went through a series of community forums, public work sessions, intimate breakout groups, where this information was collected,” he said. “A series of changes have been made along the way.”

The current $17.1 million project, which could change before the board likely adopts a plan later this month, will renovate existing spaces including the auto and wood shop, cafeteria, art room, girls and boys locker rooms, high school library, GPO TV studio, high school science room and ROTC room. A new auxiliary gym is also included in the total.

The plan is still divided into four categories: Infrastructure changes total $11.3 million; educational enhancements make up $5.2 million; safety and security upgrades would be $1.4 million; and athletics, which only includes irrigation fields and replacement of a section of bleachers, would cost $156,000.

Mr. Gamberg said the costs associated with the repairs, which have been criticized by some, are standard for school construction across the state.

“These are not a Greenport-only set of numbers,” he said. “You can go from here to the Queens border, to Buffalo, and you’re going to find, essentially, this is the standard operating procedure.”

Caption: Ms. Lillis speaks at Wednesday’s meeting. (Credit: Kate Nalepinski)

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