Nov. 17 is the date voters in the Bayport-Blue Point School District may be asked to decide on whether or not to borrow upward of $30 million to undertake a round of capital improvements to district buildings.
That means a busy few months for administrators and school board members.
They all met Tuesday night with Roger Smith, the head of BBS Architecture, for the first of three summer bond workshops leading up to the school year, when they will host a community walk-through of the schools.
Then, as Smith explained, they will take their “show on the road,” by presenting plans to area service groups and organizations, like the local library and chamber of commerce, among other interested stakeholders.
There’s also an online survey on the district’s website residents can use to give their input.
“We are conducting a survey at the current time and that will give us a good sense of what the community members feel about it,” Vincent Butera, the district’s superintendent, said in an interview before Tuesday’s meeting. “We do anticipate there will be many questions, and we’re prepared to answer any and all questions.”
The current, $30 million plan came on the recommendation of a bond committee and a 2010 building condition survey, Butera said. The plan calls for updated athletic fields, new libraries district-wide, the replacement of a slate roof at Blue Point Elementary, and new, state-of-the-art STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) labs in the the middle and high schools, and more. See prior coverage.
Smith, whose firm has overseen several large school infrastructure projects on Long Island, said a November bond vote is ideal.
“We wouldn’t recommend you voting [after] Dec. 10,” he said. “It’s too close to holidays, contentious weather and then you have people saying you’re voting in the winter so no one shows up. The next dates are more like February or March, even though that’s still winter. After that, we we start to get close to budget vote.”
He said presenting a proposed budget and an infrastructure improvements plans to the public at once is less-than-ideal.
“I just want to stay positive,” Smith continued. “We’re going to make these dates; we can do it. And tonight is the start of trying to make that happen.”
“This is a process,” Butera said. “Over the next two weeks we’ll have a great deal of information from the community. Come Aug. 10, we’ll be able to say, let’s go through the projects and we’ll have the benefit of knowing what the communiy members feel about the size of fhe bond, or the specific projects.”
One concern several board members had Tuesday, for example, had to do with the proposed STEAM labs, which would feature wood-working shops and 3-D printers.
Aside from building the labs themselves, they wondered how much it would cost in the years to come to fund the software, materials, and instructors needed to fully utilize the labs.
“The more information I have — and to not kill the summer for everyone — but the more meetings we have and the more discussion there is about individual projects, the more comfortable I am about moving froward with this schedule,” said school board Daniene Byrne. “I feel there’s a lot to be hashed out.”
The next bond workshop is scheduled for Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. followed by an Aug. 27 meeting at 6 p.m. Each of the meetings are with BBS Architecture and are being held in Room 220 of the high school.
District voters last approved a capital improvement bond for $35.5 million during the 2005-2006 school year.
“2005-06 involved some work that was not just renovations,” assistant superintendent Michael Cipriani said in an interview before the meeting. “There was some additions and more expansion-type things. This time we’re not increasing the infrastructure with this bond, other than putting some fields down.”
Those looking to participate in the community survey but don’t have easy access to a computer can pick up a paper survey at the district’s administrative center at 189 Academy Street in Bayport.
Visit the district website for more information about the proposed infrastructure improvements.