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School Bond Goes to Voters on Wednesday

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. -- Eastchester voters will go to the polls Wednesday to cast ballots on an $12.8 million bond to expand the middle school.

Polls will be open from 6 am to 9 pm at Eastchester Middle School, and at 235 Garth Road for Garth Road residents only. Anyone who is a registered voter and who has voted at least one time in the last four years is eligible to vote. Those with a prior registration with the school district may also vote.

At issue is a $12.8 million bond that will raise property taxes by roughly $133 per year or $11 per month for the average Eastchester homeowner.

The bond will pay for a wraparound addition to the gym side of the middle school that will add 14 classrooms. It will be comprised of 13 new classrooms and one renovated classroom. Also included are two science labs.

The cafeteria will be expanded, and an elevator, which is required as per the Americans with Disabilities Act, will also be added.

"There are no bells and whistles to this project," said Board of Education president Paul Doyle. "It's going to walls and ceiling, that's it."

The addition will provide some relief at the middle school which is operating with 190 students over capacity.

Middle School principal Walter Moran has spoken of students who have 90 kids in their gym class, and are only allowed 20 minutes for lunch to make room for other classmates.

Moran painted a picture of teachers sharing classrooms, arriving at the same time as their students and packing up before class ends so they can move to the next class."If a shy student wants to speak to their teacher after class, there isn't time," Moran said.

The district has had numerous meetings, mailings and even an Eastchester school bond video called "Seats for Students" highlighting what school officials say is excessive crowding and an urgent need for the addition.

While there is a group of residents on one side solidly in favor of the project, and another solidly against it, there are many who are unsure.

"People want the best for the kids, they want to retain the property value of their homes by supporting the school district to keep it a good school district, but they are simply worried they will not be able to afford to live here anymore," said Caroline Cimons who is in favor of the bond, but knows many who are undecided or against it.

Board President Doyle agrees that with the economy in its current status this is not the ideal time to ask taxpayers to spend more, but with the school enrollment projections indicating that number will soar from 190 today to 275 beyond capacity by 2016, he said something must be done.

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