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School Bond to Go to Public Vote Tuesday

White Plains residents will vote Tuesday on a proposed $48.2 million capital project.

The White Plains City School District's proposal to spend $48.2 million renovating nine district buildings will go to a public vote on Tuesday.

Included in the project are major renovations to Eastview Middle School, where $22.6 million would be spent renovating the building's roof and general maintenance. Repairs and renovations are also planned for eight other buildings.

"It's not really flashy stuff, it's small stuff that either has reached the end of it's life or it's going to reach it soon," said Fred Seiler, the district's assistant superintendent for business. "It's things that need to get done right now or we expect to get done in the next two or three years."

Earlier this fall the school district hosted a public tour of Eastview Middle School to show some of the specific repairs that are in need.

If approved, the capital spending plan would raise the district's tax levy by .72 percent, which would increase the tax payment for an average White Plains home by $65.12 annually, according to district estimates.

Seiler estimated that 90 percent of the proposal would go toward needed maintenance. Plumbing is a concern in several of the buildings, four of which have been in use since the 1920s.

The capital spending plan is the third in the last 12 years. In 2006 voters approved a $69 million project, and Seiler said the projects are necessary every few years to keep the buildings functional and safe.

"The idea, I think, is every five or six years to do all of those important items that you need to do to maintain your building," Seiler said. "This is the most cost-effective way to do it."

An 18-member task force has been working on the proposal since 2010. The task force completed three different plans for the district's board of education to consider this year. The Board of Education approved the $48.2 million project that will go to voters Tuesday in August.

"We came up with this option, which we think is a reasonable option given the economic constraints we are facing as a city, but also given the real pressures we have on us in terms of maintaining safe buildings," said White Plains Superintendent Chris Clouet.

Along with building maintenance, the proposal will add wireless internet to each of the district's buildings and upgrade playground equipment at several elementary schools. Wireless internet, which has been discussed at length during board of education meetings this year, will be important as New York State moves toward more online testing and as more educational material moves online, Clouet said.

"As we want our kids to access resources in an age appropriate way, having access to digital content and digital resources is important," Clouet said. "We think the WiFi aspect of this is both good for instruction and cost avoidance."

If approved, the renovations would be completed by November 2015, with the most critical work completed in the summer of 2013.

Polls will open in each of the district's elementary schools at 12 p.m. Tuesday and remain open until 9 p.m. Results will be available Tuesday night.

The district asks anyone who doesn't know where to vote to call 914-422-2000 for more information.

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