After months of planning and informational meetings, it is now up to the voters to decide whether $7.4 million capital improvement bond and accompanying $1.27 million wind and solar project will pass during these trying economic times.
Over the last two months, Greenport School's Superintendent Michael Comanda has been making the round from Peconic Landing to the Oysterponds School Board, showing them graphic footage of water leaking through the ceiling in the cafeteria, images of the damaged roof, classroom windows covered in brown paper towels — and even a picture of grass growing in drainage pipes.
The current economic climate has not been far from the school board member's minds during the planning process. The board has been preparing the district's finances for this vote since the planning phases of the lean 2010-11 budget. In fact, when auditor Charles Scheid from R.S. Abrams made his October presentation to the board, he said he had not seen a school budget this lean.
"There is no fat in this budget," Scheid said at the time.
The capital improvement bond includes putting a new roof on the 1930's-era building, replacing two 38-year-old boilers with a dual fuel system, replacing most of the windows, repairing damage to the auditorium ceiling, making the bathrooms on the second and third floors handicapped accessible, updating the fire alarm system, and installing a new phone and clock system. Comanda has repeatedly stated that he would not be getting a new "superintendent's suite" as part of the bond.
"This is a no frills bond," said Comanda.
The second proposal is for Greenport to install a 50-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system and a 250-kilowatt two-blade wind turbine near the softball field on Moore's Lane. In an October work session, board members originally agreed to include the wind and solar project with the capital improvement bond, but later reversed its decision because members feared opposition to the green initiative would cause the bond proposal to fail and put off needed repairs. Now, the wind and solar project is separate from the capital improvement bond and is contingent upon passage of the capital improvement bond.
At the November board meeting, New Suffolk Superintendent and Greenport resident Robert Feger applauded the work the district put into the details of the bond and was particularly pleased with the wind and solar project.
In addition, Robert Jester, Greenport resident and Riverhead Science teacher, was enthusiastic about the wind and solar project as well. He was pleased that the students would be able to see how much energy the solar panels generated and how much the school used on a monitor supplied as part of the solar program.
One of the most important features of the wind and solar project is that maintenance fees are already built into the cost of the bond, Comanda said.
"We won't need to come back to the public for additional money for maintenance. There is a maintenance plan in place and the cost is included in the wind and solar proposal," the superintendent said.
If both proposals pass, the average homeowner would see about a $230 increase in their tax bill. The vote will be held this coming Tuesday at the school from 2 to 8 p.m.