School district 12 residents easily passed a $19.7 million bond that will be earmarked for construction of a new wing to house music, performing and fine arts programs at Malverne High School, and will renovate the school's classrooms for STEM engineering and research. The vote passed on Nov. 16 with 726 yes votes and 297 voting no.
When asked about the results, Dr. James Hunderfund, superintendent of the Malverne school district, said he was pleased with the strength of community support. “It was the kind of support we were feeling — and materialized — and we are thankful for it,” he commented.
In addition to the new wing and STEM classrooms, funds will also be allocated for a new all-weather turf infield for the Malverne baseball field, improvement of air quality and climate control for all school cafeterias, and improvement of ventilation and electrical systems in the district.
Now that the budget has passed, the district will finalize architectural plans in accordance with the state aid requirements, and be submitted to the school board for approval. Hunderfund commented that he hopes to have these steps completed so that the architectural plans could be submitted to the state and be approved in time to begin construction during summer 2017. It takes approximately six months to get state approval, he said.
The bond carries a 52 percent reimbursement rate from the state in the form of building aid, bringing the total project cost to approximately $9.5 million for the district. The bond repayment will be absorbed into the district’s annual operating budget, meaning no tax increase for district 12 residents. “Taxpayers are affected by the tax cap and the tax cap formula, and the board is committed to not exceeding the tax cap,” said Hunderfund. “Whichever way the vote went, there would’ve been no difference the taxes people would need to pay.”
The bond comes at a time when the school district says it is very much in need of the extra space due to more students participating in its arts and STEM programs. “We’re bursting at the seams with kids taking challenging coursework, which takes more space and time to complete,” said Hunderfund. “All college level course work is expansive, and requires laboratory work and double period scheduling, therefore we have 10 periods days instead of eight,” said Hunderfund.
During the evening Nov. 16, dozens of residents showed up to vote at facilities set up in Howard T. Herber Middle’s School’s gymnasium, while scores of others attended a student musical performance in Herber’s auditorium down the block. The performance was so heavily attended that it was standing room only for several dozen people. “It was packed so tightly with adults and children, and it really brings to mind that we don’ have enough space,” said Hunderfund, who added that the new wing could accommodate the school’s desire to create an orchestra, and will be a good space to hold guest lectures or debates.
“It’s the next big step for mankind in Malverne,” said Hunderfund. “And it feels good because it’s for posterity.”