VOTERS APPROVE $19.6 MILLION INFRASTRUCTURE BOND
December 3 -- On Tuesday, residents of the North Shore School District voted to approve a $19.6 million bond proposal to fund infrastructure improvements in the district’s three elementary schools, middle school, high school, transportation depot, and administrative building. The vote was 741 in favor, and and 552 against.
Voter turnout was relatively strong considering that the balloting was held on a non-traditional voting day, separate from the Trustees election and Budget vote.
About two dozen residents watched as the votes were counted in the High School Gymnasium. In attendance were Superintendent Ed Melnick, Assistant Superintendent for Business Olivia Buatsi, School Board President Herman Berliner and Trustees Amy Beyer, Sara Jones, Tom Knierim, Toni Labbate, and Marianne Russo.
In the public sessions preceding Tuesday’s referendum, each of the seven members of the school board expressed strong support for the proposal, and decided unanimously at its September 12th meeting to put the issue before voters as is required under state law.
The District leadership settled on the nearly $20 million worth of projects after a long process going back to last year in which both building committees and a bond committee of dozens of district residents had the opportunity to review building conditions and engineering surveys, and offer their recommendations to the School Board and District administration.
Assistant Superintendent Olivia Buatsi has explained that the borrowing will be spread out over two stages. The first sale of bonds will be for $7 million in 2014, and the second for $12.6 million in 2015. This approach, she has stated, will allow the district to juxtapose new debt service with old debt service keeping district payments relatively level and then enabling them to decline gradually.
Dr. Melnick had said at several public meetings prior to Tuesday's vote that regardless of the bond vote’s outcome, these are projects that need to be done and that financing them through a bond is preferable to including the spending in the annual budgets. Debt service is excluded from the tax levy limit, and by spreading payments out over several years at historically low interest rates, there would be less likelihood of spikes in the budget that would put pressure on the district to make cuts to educational programs. In addition, the expense of the projects would be shared by today’s residents and future taxpayers who will also benefit from the improvements.
For a list of projects included in the proposal, click here.
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