Next week, Greenport voters will have an opportunity to take a major stand in favor of badly needed improvements at school facilities in the village. On Tuesday, Dec. 17, voters will decide on a $17.18 million capital improvement bond that, if approved, will allow for changes that will improve the school experience for all district students in a number of key areas.
Here is a partial list of the work that will be undertaken if voters approve this bond: bathroom renovations; electrical and heating upgrades; security upgrades, including interior and exterior cameras; repair of walls and ceilings; upgrades to the elementary library; and upgrades to some sections of the boys’ and girls’ locker rooms. None of these are frivolous fixes — particularly anything that enhances security. In our gun-loving country, where active-shooter drills are commonplace even in elementary classrooms, anything that makes students safer while they are in school is money that must be spent. To withhold funding for school safety would be a travesty.
Last June, village voters rejected a $23.8 million bond for district improvements by just 23 votes. Since then, school board members have worked to reformat the plan and come up with a new dollar amount. If this bond is approved, the district will apply $1 million from its capital reserve fund to lower the total cost, meaning that $17.18 million of the total $18.18 million cost will be bonded. Superintendent David Gamberg says the planned upgrades will touch “a great many areas of the physical building to bring it into a healthier, safer, better learning environment.”
Greenport’s students deserve these improvements — which will provide them with benefits students in far wealthier districts and communities are already receiving. A rising tide needs to raise all boats, not just some. Given the widespread disparities between school districts across Long Island, it’s clearly Greenport’s turn to receive improved facilities.
Greenport’s administrators and board members put in considerable work after the initial bond failed, by listening to residents’ concerns, understanding what the community felt was most important and creating a revised plan that focused on the essentials.
The tax impact of the bond to be voted on Tuesday is this: An average homeowner with property valued at $330,000 will pay an additional $240 a year if the bond is approved. A property valued at $615,000 could pay an additional $445 a year.
Voting will take place in the Dude Manwaring Gymnasium from 2 to 8 p.m. A yes vote will send a strong signal to students and their families that the voters care about the well-being of this very deserving school district. We urge voters to approve the bond.