On November 19, 2012, the residents of the Rocky Point School District will be voting on a $1.9 million capital improvement project. There is only one proposition on the ballot, but there are three separate projects involved: (1) reconstruction of instructional laboratories ($300,000), (2) replacement of existing grass football field with synthetic turf ($1,010,000), and (3) reconstruction of existing running track/field ($680,000).
According to the RP Board 70% of the project costs will be reimbursed by the state, which brings the actual cost to the district down to $597,000. (However, the $1.9 million will all be paid for by tax dollars, some local, some state.) This money is already in the Capital Reserve Improvement Fund. So, according to the Board it will not cost us anything--what an economic concept: If you spend money you’ve saved, it doesn’t cost you anything! And, of course, we still have to pay for maintenance and future replacement costs. But this Board doesn’t seem to be worried about that.
On September 24, 2012 (monthly BOE meeting), the Board announced that the three projects would be presented for a vote as one proposition. They explained that project 2 (synthetic turf for football field) and project 3 (renovating the track) had to be linked to an inside project (renovating the labs) in order to be reimbursed by the state.
To quote from the Minutes of that meeting: “Dr. Ring and the board explained in detail that the district will receive state aid for outside improvements only if bundled with indoor improvements.” This certainly makes it sound like there is no choice.
However, later in the same meeting Board President Nofi said that “the board decided that the referendum will be presented as one item and not three separate items.”
This makes it sound like there was a choice--but some of us were certainly confused.
It turns out that it’s possible to let residents vote on the three separate items and still get the state aid. If the statement “IN ORDER FOR EITHER/BOTH ITEMS 2 (THE SYNTHETIC TURF) AND/OR 3 (RENOVATING THE TRACK) TO PASS, ITEM 1 (THE LABS) MUST PASS” were added to the proposition, we could vote to pass any or all parts and all the parts THAT PASS will be state aidable as long as item 1 passes!
This was done in 2010 in Miller Place. Three separate items were under consideration, but all three were not approved by the voters. So why is the Rocky Point board not willing to do the same thing? The only answer is they’re afraid they won’t get what they want. They want the turf, are afraid the voters may not want it, and therefore are not giving the voters the right to be able to vote on the parts they do want.
According to the New York State Department of Education, there is nothing illegal about what this Board is choosing to do. And our only recourse is to vote it down. So, send a message to this Board that they can’t keep doing business as usual. You can vote this down and then vote them out when they come up for reelection.
If you support renovating the labs, which I do, remember that seven labs have already been renovated and the remaining three can be renovated next year. Then, rather than putting all this money into the fields, we can ask that all the bathrooms be fixed, which some parents have said are an embarrassment. At one of the meetings a mother said she won’t let her kids use the bathrooms. That’s a sad state of affairs. The Board is supposed to reflect what the community wants, NOT tell us what we want or what a small group of people want.
The vote is on November 19th. We need to do what’s right for all the kids, not just a select few or the special interest--since the Board doesn’t seem to be willing to do it. Vote No on November 19!
And don’t forget about the next School Board meeting on October 29th at 7 p.m. at the Carasiti school.