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44.7 Million Dollar Bond Could Bring Major Changes to Blind Brook

Source: Abby Strauzer

OCTOBER 16th— A referendum regarding the proposed bond for the Blind Brook-Rye UFSD will be held tomorrow. The renovation, together with a significant improvement of facilities at the Bruno M. Ponterio Ridge Street Elementary School and the Blind Brook Middle/High Schools relies on the referendum. The total cost of these projects is an estimated 44.7 million dollars, with 6 to 7 million allocated to the Middle/High School and about 38 million allocated to the elementary school. The most worrisome effect of the bond to Rye Brook residents is an increase in taxes. The average homeowner (based on an 850 thousand dollar property value), will incur an estimated 525 to 585 dollar increase in school taxes between 2020 and 2026. In order to offset the cost of the project, and subsequently offset the increase in taxes for Rye Brook residents, New York State will supply 10 million dollars in building aid.

Here is what Superintendent Jonathan Ross had to say regarding the project:

“In April 2014, the Board of Education established a District Facilities Committee to review and discuss aspects of modernizing the BMP Ridge Street School and other improvements needed at the BBMS/HS campus. The Committee worked earnestly for the past three years, in cooperation with Mr. George George of Kliment Halsband Architects and Mr. Robert Firneis of Savin Engineers, to do inspections and help create Blind Brook’s Five Year Capital Facilities Plan for the years 2016-2020. This Plan identifies a significant amount of construction work much of which is included in the proposed projects that the Board of Education has approved, and now asks eligible resident voters to authorize the funding of, on October 17, 2017.”

The bond is focused on a shift towards 21st-century learning. It will have a large impact on the Ridge Street elementary school, with plans of building a cafetorium (a combination of a cafeteria and an auditorium), improving safety and security, as well as renovating older parts of the building. As for the Middle/High School, these funds will be used mainly for infrastructure needs, such as replacing windows and upgrading bathrooms. A fabrication laboratory or the “Fab Lab” will also be funded, this addition will allow students to participate in more project-based learning with a focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics). At Ridge Street, a “Makerspace”, similar to the Fab Lab, is also included in the plans. This aims to increase hands-on learning. Many of these much-needed renovations are set to modernize the classroom environment and basic facilities at both campuses. More information about the proposed bond can be found at this link on the district website.

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Kidar Kooverjee