Schools already moving forward

Just a week after bond passage, work starts


With the approval of the $45.9 million bond last week, the Rockville Centre School District is already starting the process of improving the buildings, with work scheduled to begin this summer.

The bond was approved by the community by a comfortable margin — 2,078 to 1, 465. Because it passed, residents will see an increase in their tax bills ($128 for the average home). But it won’t happen right away, and it won’t happen all at once.

According to Rockville Centre Superintendent Dr. William Johnson, residents won’t start seeing a bond-related increase on their tax bills until the 2014-15 school year. And because the district won’t be borrowing the full amount of the bond at once (it will be done in phases), the initial increase will be small. It will be a few years before residents feel the full weight of the bond.

Roger P. Smith, the president and principal architect of BBS, said that the approval of the bond marked a turning point for the Long Island economy.

“This is the fifth school construction bond for BBS-designed school construction projects approved on Long Island and in Lower New York State in the last two-and-a-half months,” Smith said in a release. “We are witnessing the beginning of the end of the recession in our region.”

Johnson said that he hopes the first work can begin this summer.

“We met already with the architects, and we’ll be meeting with them again [next week] to start putting together a timeline for low-hanging fruits — things that can be done very early on and that we feel confident we can push through the state Education Department approval process fairly quickly,” he said. “And possibly get done in the summertime or sometime in the fall.”

On that list of “low-hanging fruit” are the installation of artificial turf on the fields at South Side High School, the replacement of door handles in the schools and installing air conditioning units in all district classrooms.

“When you take a look at the volume of work, it’s a lot of things we can get done,” said Johnson. “And then we’re going to very aggressively begin the process of getting [plans for Watson and SSHS] drawn up.”

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