District Scheduled to Take Out $85 Million Bond

By Haley Raphael

The Great Neck School District will be taking out a new bond for $85 million in 2018. The bond will be used to finance projects too costly to fit into the district’s yearly operational budget.
Each of the district’s educational buildings will be allocated a certain amount of money to address the buildings’ individual needs. Schools will be given money directly for non-negotiable repairs. Two years ago, a private firm of architects and insurance personnel surveyed each school building to determine critical repairs that need to be made to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and visitors.
In addition, each school will also be given a flexible fund “to give each building an opportunity to make other major changes because the schools know best what they need,” said Mr. John Powell, the district’s assistant superintendent for business.
South High will be given approximately $15 million. Of that money, $12.64 million will be used to replace the windows, roof, rooftop AC and exhaust units, and rooftop drains. The rest of the money—$2.325 million—will be put into a “flexible fund” which will be used to replace the auditorium seats, reconfigure rooms 323 and 319 into smaller testing areas, redo the male PE and coach locker rooms, install new electrical panels, update the library, and place window AC units the 20 classrooms without air conditioning. A committee of South faculty, PTSA members, and students decided on these projects; however, they also discussed creating turf fields and an environmental learning center on campus. Ultimately, the committee decided that these projects “lacked priority,” according to Assistant Principal Mr. John Duggan, who was a member of the committee.
The details of all of the expected projects will be released to the public at the board meeting on Dec. 12 and voted for on Feb. 14. If approved by the community, these changes will probably start taking place over summer vacation in 2018. Mr. Powell said that the projects will likely take three summers to complete but “will not disrupt classroom instruction.”
The bond will be financed by taxpayers over the course of 20 years, so it should be completely paid off in 2036. Each year, the district will pay a portion of the principal amount in addition to interest on the remaining balance. The money will be paid to whichever member of the “financial community (Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Chase etc.) offers the lowest interest rate,” said Mr. Powell. The institutions buy our district’s bond in order to resell it to investors.
This bond will replace the one that our district took out in 1998 for $26 million, which will expire in July 2018. The new bond will be the largest in the district’s history; Mr. Powell said it is essential for our district to make the critical repairs now because prices are on an upward trend and “interest rates are currently really low.”