The Rockville Centre Board of Education finalized the dollar amount for the proposed school improvement bond at Tuesday night's monthly meeting.
On March 19, residents will have the chance to approve or reject a $45.9 million bond that will improve various features in all of the district's schools. Based on the bond number, the board's estimate of the annual tax increase was approximately $190 per household in the first year.
The board had the original figure estimated at more than $49 million heading into Tuesday's meeting, but was able to trim more than $3 million from the preliminary cost estimates.
The biggest cut from the referendum was that of air conditioning in the main assembly spaces at both South Side Middle School and South Side High School. After a long debate the board decided against adding the A/C units — estimated at nearly $1.2 million — due to the large cost involved.
"I definitely would love to see it, but it's $1.2 million. I have a hard time justifying spending that much money," board trustee John O'Shea said. "... I just don't think $1.2 million and the operating costs pay off in the end."
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Another major cut in the bond came from design contingencies, escalation fees and soft costs. Roger Smith — one of the main architects on the bond project — said that a total of $800,000 could be taken from the three categories: $200,000 from contingencies, $400,000 from escalation fees and $200,000 from soft costs.
"I want to make sure that this doesn't look like a willy-nilly way of just trying to throw numbers around," Smith said. "This is coming from extremely broad experience of mine, relative to this type of work."
Other costs that were cut included carpet replacements at the high school, balcony seating in the middle school auditorium and fencing at the Covert Elementary School baseball field. There was also a house that was going to be purchased across from the high school to run several different programs out of, however, the house was taken off the market.
The board spent significant time debating multiple athletic features at the high school, including a home grandstand, visitor bleachers, a new press box, a turf practice field and practice field lighting. Ultimately, after hearing feedback residents in attendance, the board decided to leave the items — totaling approximately $1.1 million — on the bond.
"It will just literally be a much better place for our kids to be able to come to," Superintendent William Johnson said in reference to the bond's pending approval. "It's going to be a safer set of buildings. They'll be able to run more efficiently and I think, quite frankly, the instructional program will be the beneficiary of all [the board] is doing."
The vote for the school improvement bond will take place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on March 19 at the South Side High School gymnasium.
Editor's Note: A story on the major numbers from the school improvement bond will be published Thursday, Jan. 24, at 8 a.m.