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Turf Field Plan Sparks Controversy at Lynbrook BOE Meeting

Board must decide on capital projects plan by March 31.

With less than three weeks before the deadline for an official decision, the Lynbrook Board of Education is still unsure of which capital projects the district will ask voters to approve at the May 15 budget vote. The issue sparked a lengthy debate at Wednesday night’s board of education meeting at Lynbrook High School. 

The original capital project plan, revealed at the Feb. 29 , called for a band and chorus room, elevator, external bathrooms, locker rooms, turf field at and a track replacement and turf field at . 

These projects would remove $6,125,000 from the capital reserve fund. That fund currently contains $6.9 million, according to Assistant Superintendent of Business Dr. Melissa Burak. 

A second project, a turf field at Marion Street Elementary, would follow the completion of the two middle school improvements. 

Those initial recommendations have caused concern among some in regards to the economic viability of long term field maintenance, according to Superintendent Santo Barbarino. Because of this, Barbarino has come up with an alternate potential plan. 

“All of these ideas are out there for discussion by the board of education,” Barbarino said. “What I was considering was going with the turf project at North [Middle School] together with the construction of the building at North, which they desperately need. Then, we would have turf put in at Marion Street, where we already have the large stands in place, and move the baseball field to South [Middle School].”

Barbarino claimed that putting a baseball field at South Middle School is more “practical” and “workable” than it had been during similar discussions in prior years. 

Various board members expressed concerns regarding Barbarino’s revised recommendation. Vice President Dr. William Kayen asked if the cost of long term turf replacement would affect the current or future job security of teachers. Barbarino assured him that it would not. 

“We’re not looking to lose any teacher for any reason,” Barbarino said. 

The board did acknowledge that money would have to be set aside each year for future replacement of the turf. 

“Clearly, as other districts have done, if we put a field in we have to commit ourselves to setting up a separate fund to save up money to replace that field,” Trustee William Belmont said.      

In response to the concern that putting in both fields simultaneously would be too large and risky a project, Secretary Ellen Marcus suggested installing turf at one school and gauging the results before moving forward with the second field. 

However, a significant amount of money is saved by completing both projects at the same time, according to Barbarino. 

Multiple options were floated throughout the night, with no indication of a consensus among members. The board must post a legal notice of its decision by March 31, according to Burak.            

BigIdeas March 15, 2012 at 05:48 PM
If the reserve fund is burning a hole in your pocket, how about just giving it back to the taxpayers?
the big kahuna March 15, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Bill Kayen is a PHONEY!!! We all heard him support the turf field to get elected and then back off it when it was convenient. Anyone who voteds for this phoney is really stupid. As for the plan,either spend the money on these projects-which are fair to all- or give it back to the tax payers. Id like to spend it but I DONT want it to sit in a fund for years while the distirct goes into ruins. Look around at the various local school districts and we are falling way behind.. Smarten up Lynbrook and vote yes for it.
the big kahuna March 15, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Kayen also knows that this money can NOT be spent for teachers or any operating things. If it could my vote would be different. It CANT- thats state LAW. For him to equate this to a loss of teachers is unbelievable!!!!! What a bad actor!!!!!
the big kahuna March 15, 2012 at 06:03 PM
The more I watch this board the more I realize how bad they are. Its time for new leadership in this distirct. If they cant get together on this how can we trust their judgement with our kids??? Time to get new blood!!!!!
the big kahuna March 15, 2012 at 06:53 PM
If we are not going to spend from the reserve fund STOP PUTTING MONEY INTO IT!!! we are limited to what can be spent from it. If we dont want to use it save the tax payers another incerase. I will vote no on the budget until this money is spent or given back to the people. Taxpayers where are you!!!!!!!
Mark Healey March 15, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I am just wondering, with all of the drama surrounding this proposal, does anyone who would qualify as an expert have an opinion? Because frankly, most of the people that I hear from on this argument -- on both sides -- have no idea what they heck they are talking about. They are either totally for, or totally against, the idea.
the big kahuna March 15, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Good point. I think the problem is no one wants to spend money on a field for the football team which is how it is sometimes portrayed. this is a whole lot more than that. It is an opportunity for all of our children to benifit. Now they have added other needs that are non athletic so there should be no questions on this project. I wish there was more use for the funds but there is not- unless you want to vote to give it back. I get angry when I hear Bill Kayen question bettering the district which was the platform that he ran on.
mike james March 15, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Mark, I have attended the meetings and found out alot about all this. The fact is that whatever this propositon turns out to be there is something in it for everyone, Lynbrook north would get a band room, elevator, and changing room with exterior bathrooms and a turf field. The South side would get a field at Marion Street for football and lacrosse. Capitol reserve money belongs to the taxpayers and should be used to address needs like this,not sit there to never be used.This benefits kids in the performing arts, athletics, and also addresses handicapped access at North Middle School.
Mark Healey March 15, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Mike, all of that sounds great. Perhaps undecided voters like myself, who support both sports AND the arts (and of course, the three kids I have in the Lynbrook school system), would lean more towards voting or the plan if it were presented more eloquently and comprehensively.
Dan Toy March 15, 2012 at 10:34 PM
I agree Mark, but the only place you'll begin to hear what's going on is at the board meetings, which normally have the same 20 people in attendance and is where the PROPOSED plans have been presented. When things happened in the district that I wouldn't know about, I figured the least I can do for MY three kids is to sacrifice 90 minutes, one night a month to listen to what's happening. Until the day comes when these meetings are televised or somehow streamed on the district site, if you want answers, that's the best place to ask your questions.
Brian March 16, 2012 at 06:58 AM
A little known (unknown) secret. Just about all the schools in the district are old and in need of significant modernization to meet the demands of the 21st century..And what was the topic of discussion at the meeting..turf fields What planet are these people on?
mike james March 16, 2012 at 09:52 AM
Brian, Do you have an understanding of all this and have you ever been to a meeting? Are we going to deny the performing arts kids a new band room at North and the athletic students good facilities to play on? When did this stop being about the kids Brian? I would bet you ahve never even gone to a meeting to hear the details. As a North side parent I am thrilled that finally our facilities in the middle school will be upgraded!
Merrick7 March 16, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I think Brian's point goes to the need to upgrade school facilities like science labs and classrooms and theaters and computers and art rooms. Bathrooms and ADA compliance. Things that will affect all students academically not turf fields, which many major league sports and many major high schoolsports teams question the need for it at all. And the expense is great.
mike james March 16, 2012 at 02:59 PM
All that needs to be done in a future bond. The amount of capitol reserve money will not cover all that. Mr. Toy, i agree on your point about attendance at meetings. I have been to a few and sense a serious apathy problem among residents. The ones i attended had about 20 people there.
Lisa G March 16, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Your bias is bleeding through Merrick7. You are suggesting that theaters and art rooms affect all students. They don't. Nor do the fields. The only thing that affects all students is the front door. If this was a numbers game, more district students are involved in athletics than in theater or music. Many students are involved in both. Fortunately, this is not a numbers game. The best thing about this plan is that it calls for investment in both areas, to better impact the greatest number and most diverse group of students. Also, if you check your facts you will see that the fields constitute the smallest share of the investment in this plan. This is not the same one dimensional plan that was presented last year. Your point about adding science labs and classrooms are valid but the price tag on that is in the tens of millions of dollars. Those may be addressed with a bond proposal next year. The capital reserve cannot scratch the surface of that expense.
Lisa G March 16, 2012 at 03:18 PM
There is no doubt our elected officials must be held accountable for the things they say to earn our votes, whether they're politicians or board members. That's true in this case as well. But it can be done in a civil way without the name calling.
Nick D March 16, 2012 at 04:07 PM
this board really nas no clue what they are doing. They want to spend this reserve like drunken sailors. Last year there was the grand football stadium turf field we couldnt live without. When that failed miserably now they are trying to buy everybodys support with new band rooms and other additions . All of a sudden we have money fot three turf fields. Its time to vote them all down again
noogie nitemare March 17, 2012 at 04:17 AM
exactly what needs to be done to bring schools into the 21st century?
Merrick7 March 20, 2012 at 06:51 AM
It is not bias. In the Bellmore-Merrick district, i as many residents, have been begging and pleading for turf fields to be put to a vote. I want them, but theaters art rooms and music actually do affect all students because they are mandated part of curriculum. All students participate and use. In addition, theaters are used for more than just drama clubs, but for public assemblies and lectures and awards. In gym classes, most of the time the main fields where the turf is located are never utilized by the majority of the student body. The turf fields are not a necessity as improvements to the aforementioned rooms are to provide the best environment for learning. Well-maintained fields easily provide a good environment for athletes and as many student athletes will say they in many cases do not always provide a better playing field especially for soccer and lacrosse. Science labs do not cost tens of millions. I do not know where you retrieved those numbers. Improvements to our labs in three high schools and two middle schools in our districts are estimate near 5 million. So i do not know what kind of facilities you get your numbers from. Please be careful with your tone and do not make fast assumptions without reason. All the best
Clutching ThePurse March 24, 2012 at 02:02 PM
My child graduated and has finished college. The reason there are the same 20 people at the board meetings today is the same reason there were only 20 there over all the years I had a child attending the schools. The majority of the people on the board run unopposed. The reason? NOBODY wants a position on the board unless the whole board turns over regularly. There were people on that board who I termed "career board members." This turf field proposition was on the agenda 5 and 6 years ago! It seems like it has been on the agenda forever. Most residents are tired of hearing about the football team. While the board was squirreling away money in the reserve fund, I often wondered why I was paying hundreds of dollars for SAT prep! Why *exactly* isn't SAT prep offered free of charge at the school? Why was I paying retail for binders, markers and other items at a teacher's whim when those items should have been available free of charge at the school. The students complained bitterly over the cockroaches throughout the high school. It would be refreshing if the board actually asked the residents what THEY thought the schools needed. ASK what the top 20 complaints are in the form of written and snail mailed communication. Tally up the answers you get back and IMPLEMENT those items and you'll have a VERY grateful community.
Lisa G March 24, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Clutching ThePurse, an independent Strategic Planning Committee spent over a year doing exactly what you are asking for and the results of what the residents said were important to them, are what you see in the new plan.

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