Herricks building tours aim to show need for fixes

The Island Now

Herricks school district officials will lead three tours next week to show residents exactly what a major package of building projects would fix.

The tours on Oct. 26, 28 and 29 will give residents a closer look at the smaller “health and safety” improvements and larger renovations included in the district’s $29.5 million capital initiative in advance of a Dec. 6 bond referendum, said Fino Celano, the district superintendent.

“Just like if you own a home, there are always improvements and projects that need to take place and I think when people come they’ll see that the same is true in our schools,” Celano said.

The district leads walkthroughs of its buildings each August, but this is the first time it has offered tours in connection with a bond referendum, Celano said.

Lisa Rutkoske, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, a representative from the district’s architecture firm, BBS Architects, and individual school administrators will join Celano in leading the tours of the district’s seven buildings.

Voters will decide in December whether to authorize $25 million in borrowing and $3.3 million in reserve spending to fund most of the projects. The district will hold another  vote later to authorize another $1.2 million in reserve spending.

District officials say basic upgrades, such as replacing doors and windows and repaving parking lots, account for about 60 percent of the work. Herricks High School will get about half the work, including a brand new fitness center and major renovations to its athletic field, cafeteria and one of its science labs.

“Going on the tour will both give people an opportunity to see the smaller health and safety items … and also they’ll be able to see these major projects that we have planned,” Celano said.

The projects are the top priorities on an $80 million list of fixes the district identified in a survey of its buildings last year. A committee created the package in June and presented it to residents in three meetings last month.

The $25 million bond would replace existing debt that will expire in the 2021-22 school year, meaning it would not raise residents’ property taxes, district officials have said.

The first tour starts at 7 p.m. on Oct. 25 at the Searingtown School and proceeds to Herricks Middle School and Herricks High School.

The second starts at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 26 at the Herricks Community Center and proceeds to Shelter Rock Academy, the Center Street School and the Denton Avenue School.

The third tour will go through all seven buildings starting at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 29 at the community center and Shelter Rock Academy and ending at the high school.

By Noah Manskar

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