This is the first of a three part series on the bond under consideration by the Eastchester Board of Education. Part 2, a look at what parents think about the proposed bond, will appear on Monday, August 22 and part 3 will appear on Wednesday, August 24.
EASTCHESTER, N.Y. Longtime Eastchester resident Peter DeFelice admits he is a frequent attendee to local town and school board meetings.
While having lunch Friday at the Lake Isle Senior Citizens club, DeFelice said he already knows the Eastchester Public Schools are filled to capacity and the Board of Education will most likely be seeking money from taxpayers to fund a new addition that will add classroom space.
"I know that they need the space now, but what happens when the population goes down again?" DeFelice said. "We can't give the space back and lower our taxes again."
Senior Citizen Betty Roberts has lived in Eastchester for 37 years and sent her own children through Eastchester schools.
Roberts said that the perception by outsiders and even people who live in the community is that anyone who lives there has a lot of money.
"I just can't see any more tax increases right now," Roberts said. "Whether you have a young family or are retired like me, people just cannot afford it right now."
The seniors are responding to the possibilty that the Eastchester Board of Education will hold a special vote this fall seeking voter approval for either a $12.7 million or a $26 million bond.
The $12.7 million proposal will add about a dozen new classrooms to the middle school and five new science labs.
If the board asks for approval on the $26 million project, the high school will also receive 10 new classroom and four new science labs.
The proposed expansion will replace the two story cafeteria with a four-story addition. The old gym would no longer be used for classroom space and would be restored to a gym. Several existing science labs would also be updated.
District officials have said they are completely out of room, and if there is no addition of space, it may have to resort to staggered school openings or morning and afternoon shifts of attendance.
Roberts said there are worse things that can happen.
"I had to attend school like that and I can tell you it is not going to hurt them," she said.
Senior Joe Mongelli said he might consider supporting a bond for the district, but not until some of his concerns have been addressed.
"We pay a lot of money in taxes," Mongelli said. "Where are they spending it? I think they should hire an outside auditor to account for all the money we already give them and present it to the public before they ask us for more."
Eastchester schools have not been able to get voters to support a bond since 2000 when a $12.3 million bond was approved. Those funds paid to add 4 classrooms and renovate the gym and cafeteria at Greenvale School, added a 12 classroom wing to Waverly School and added two classrooms to Anne Hutch School.
A bond for more than $25 million failed to win voter approval in 2006. In 2008, voters also nixed a two-pronged vote, one for roughly $19 million and a second for $5 million.
The Board of Education held a work session last Tuesday to discuss the matter with the expectation of making a decision on how and if they will ask residents to support a bond. The board will hold its regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
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