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Oct 3, 2017 12:06 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Quogue School Officials Will Discuss $8.7 Million Renovation Plan At October Meeting

Cracks in concrete along thte walkway to the school will be repaired following the approval of the $8.7 million renovation. VALERIE GORDON
Oct 3, 2017 2:37 PM

East Quogue Board of Education members will revisit preliminary plans for $8.7 million in suggested upgrades to the elementary school at their next meeting on Tuesday, October 10.

Back in September, John Grillo, an architect with John A. Grillo Architects in Port Jefferson, proposed a series of upgrades to the Central Avenue school, including redoing classrooms, renovating bathrooms and the custodian’s office, and upgrading the gymnasium.

“The problems are typical renovation/repair-type problems that every school faces,” Mr. Grillo said on Monday, adding that there is “nothing out of the ordinary” included in the suggested breakdown.

Additionally, Mr. Grillo’s proposal calls for renovations to the nurse’s office to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Specifically, work calls for enlarging the nurse’s office bathroom so that it can accommodate students in wheelchairs. He explained that while the school already has handicapped-accessible bathrooms, they are located to the rear of the building and far from the nurse’s station, which is just to the left of the main entrance.

The renovations, if approved, would also include exterior work, such as new sidewalks and asphalt. The remaining funds would go toward funding infrastructure technology upgrades, such as wiring, throughout the school.

At last month’s board meeting, held a week before the start of the new school year, only three members of the public were in attendance. East Quogue School Superintendent Robert Long said he is optimistic that more parents and taxpayers will attend next week’s meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the school.

“I can’t attribute to why people didn’t come, but the board is very clear that getting info out is a top priority,” he said. “We’re doing everything in our power to make sure the community is aware of [these] meetings.”

At next week’s meeting, Mr. Long said he wants to receive feedback from parents and to highlight proposed security and safety upgrades for the elementary school, including the possible creation of a “security vestibule requiring students being buzzed into the building two times,” he said.

He added that the district intends to offer taxpayers walking tours of the building in the coming weeks to show off current conditions and explain what changes are being proposed and why.

“We want to hear, more than anything, what our community is thinking,” he said. “It’s time that the district takes a long hard look at modernizing the facility to keep our children as safe as possible. We have real concerns about facilities that haven’t been updated since 1950s.”

If they agree to move forward with the renovations, board members will be faced with a choice to either seek public approval of a $8.7 million bond—one that could possibly run for 17 years—or figure out how to pay for the upgrades with a long-term repayment plan.

Mr. Long said that now is the opportune time to begin planning the upgrades as the district expects to pay off an approximate $6.9 million bond from 1999, used to construct the north wing of the school, in the 2018-19 school year. He added that the district would be “seriously penalized if [it] does not accrue new debt.”

In addition, Mr. Long says the $8.7 million plan will not significantly affect taxpayers as the new bond, if taken out, will essentially replace the previous one. Bruce Singer, the district’s business official, says the plan is to “figure out how to do [the work] without a tax impact.”

“It’s our job to educate the needs of our community regarding our schools,” Mr. Long said. “It’s a priority for the Board Of Education to transparently get the proper info out there to ensure a first-rate learning environment for our students while continuing to be fiscally responsible to taxpayers.”

Though no decisions have been made yet, Mr. Grillo estimates that the renovations would take approximately 14 months from start to finish.

He added that the majority of the work would not begin until the summer of 2019, putting the projected completion date near the start of the 2020-21 school year.

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