All six of the buildings in the Glen Cove School District are more than 50 years old and in various stages of disrepair. To resolve the problems district wide, a bond committee was formed and presented its recommendations to the Glen Cove Board of Education, highlighting projects proposed at each school.
“Thank you to all the members of the bond committee,” said superintendent Maria Rianna. “The board recognizes the facilities are in need of upgrades. I want to thank you for the time, effort, patience and data collection that has been happening to have the bond committee bring forth their findings.”
Committee members include a teacher representative from each school, a parent representative from each school, board of education members, central administration members and architects and engineers.
“The committee has been working for nearly a year, touring the schools, understanding what the needs of the schools are, determining what the costs would be and trying to present something here to the board so that it can make a determination on when and how to proceed,” said architect Michael Mark.
Mark said the main goals include improving security, improving educational spaces, focusing on health and safety issues and enhancing educational and community experiences.
“These are things that Glen Cove has been facing for a very long time,” said Mark. “The buildings are old, they have been in need of repair.”
He noted that a bond was put forth about 10 years ago that would have addressed many of the items, but it did not pass.
“It failed by about 200 votes. As a result, those conditions have continued to deteriorate and decline over time,” said Mark.
He went over the projects building by building, noting that all of the buildings need air conditioning and masonry repairs.
Proposed projects at Deasy Elementary School include the removal of the link to the middle school for security reasons and getting the pre-K, art and music classrooms out of the basement.
“The link isn’t safe,” said committee member Amy Gallo, a teacher at Gribbin Elementary School. “Anyone can get to Deasy from the middle school, and if there’s a lock out, you can’t get to either school—you’re stuck in that link.”
Gallo also mentioned the fire escape, which is rotted and not usable, and noted that there’s no elevator or access for a wheelchair to get to the nurse’s office on the second floor. Another concern is that in certain parts of the building, the fire alarm cannot be heard.
“What we proposed is a four-room addition,” said Mark, displaying a rendering of the building with the addition that would address many of these issues.
Some of the biggest issues facing Gribbin as described by the committee, include no elevator access to the second floor and no corridor bathrooms on the second floor. At Connolly, key problems include the size of the cafeteria, which is “not even large enough to feed an entire grade level at the same time,” according to Mark, and the building no longer has a dedicated art and music room. At Landing School, renovating the cafeteria would be a priority. Projects at the middle school would include a new student research center and an elevator in the cafeteria.
Proposed projects at the high school include new science labs, converting the carriage house to an outdoor learning center and renovating both cafeterias.
“Our schools are aging and most of these projects are essential,” said Gallo. “I think our students deserve sound buildings and they deserve the best education they can get.”
Mark said the total bond cost would be around $91 million, and borrowing would happen over a four year period. He said 25 percent of the projects would be eligible for state aid, so the district would get back just under $23 million. Additionally, there could be grant money available that would be looked into if the board decides to move forward.
“The net cost after aid but before grants is about $68 million,” said Mark.
Over the next few weeks, the board will decide how to proceed. It must hold a public hearing prior to scheduling a voting date, which could be as early as Dec. 1. Presentations would be made to the PTAs and more information would be distributed to the community.
“The board will take this information, do its due diligence, ask questions of the architects and engineers and will make an appropriate recommendation,” said Rianna.
“We’ll be addressing this as soon as we can and then move forward as a group,” said board president Gail Nedbor Gross.
Students spanning the elementary, middle and high schools stood up and made comments about what types of changes they would like to see at their schools during the public comment period, as did residents.
“Even with this bond, our school taxes are much lower than neighboring districts,” said Danielle Fugazy-Scagliola. “I feel an investment in our schools will create returns for property values.”
She added, “In my opinion, communities that thrive have school districts that are a point of pride, not places that need to be defended. I really believe our children deserve better.”
The next board of education meeting will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 7:30 p.m. at Glen Cove High School.