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Eastchester BOE to Put $12 Million Bond to Vote

This is the final part of a three part series on the bond under consideration by the Eastchester Board of Education. The first story examined senior citizens' thoughts on the proposed bond. Part two explored the opinions of moms with young children in the district.

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Eastchester Board of Education voted unanimously in favor of placing a $12.7 million bond before voters on Oct. 12 that will fund the expansion of the middle school.

At the Tuesday night meeting, Board President Paul Doyle said that the board has spent many hours discussing how to manage the burgeoning student population at both the middle school and the high school.

"We all know about the economy and we know that this is not the time to ask for more when many in our community do not have a lot," Doyle said. "We have members who have dealt with unemployment or with businesses that are struggling."

With that in mind, the board opted to seek only enough money to deal with the space issues at the middle school and come back to voters to add space to the high school sometime in the future.

If the high school addition had been included in the plan, the board would have had to ask voters to approve a $26 million bond. The high school addition would have replaced the existing two story cafeteria with a four story addition that would add 10 classrooms and four science labs.

While all of the trustees supported the smaller bond amount, they also made it clear they were concerned about an equally disturbing lack of space at the high school.

The buildings are already approximately 288 students above capacity according to consultants hired by the board, and if space is not added that number will soar to 453 students beyond what the building can handle.

"With all of the financial hardships that people are facing, doing the expansion at the middle school only is the reasonable thing to do," said board Vice President Michelle Kissel. "But I am incredibly concerned about the lack of space in the high school."

Trustee David Calforo said if voters pass the bond, most residents will see an increase of roughly $130 per year in their tax levy. That number was based on the majority of Eastchester homes with an assessed value of $10,000 and the additional cost of about $13.50 per $1,000.

"That's about $11 per day per month, a small price to pay," Calfaro said. "Through the good times and the bad times the board has to do everything we can to give the best education to kids."

No one in the audience opted to speak on the bond proposal but several parents indicated they would support the measure after the meeting was over.

Terri Tomany, who has two kids attending school in the district, one in the middle school and one in the high school, said she has been dealing with the need for space in the schools since 2005.

"The space is absolutely needed," Tomany said. "I think it is prudent of the board to ask for the lesser amount and I am all for it."

Former board of education Trustee Liz Cangro said she will also support the bond even though her children have graduated.

"This is not about getting money for a new playground," Cangro said. "If these kids don't have the space they need to get a good education I don't know what will happen."

The bond will support a two story addition that will wrap around the middle school gym and along the side of the building. The addition will add 10 classrooms and five science labs to the middle school. There will also be some renovations to existing classroom space.

High School Parent Teacher Association (PTA) President Judah Holstein said the PTA will discuss its position on the bond at their Sept. 12 meeting.

"It is evident to me we have a problem, I wish we did not have to reach into our pockets to solve it but we do," said Holstein speaking only as a parent and not as PTA president. "This town is measured in part by the success of the school district. If the school district suffers, ultimately our property values will suffer as well. Realistically speaking, we have no choice.”

What do you think of the proposal to expand the middle school? Is it enough to solve the space problems, too much for the community to afford in these times? Tell us below or on Facebook.

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