Great Neck Public School district voters came out in droves on Tuesday, Feb. 14, but defeated the proposed 2017 Bond Referendum by 113 votes. Of the 3,241 votes cast, 1,677 voted No and 1,564 voted Yes.
The proposed Bond Issuance of $85,900,000, which would have been payable throughout 20 years, would have financed more than 60 educational and building enhancements, as well as 30 critical structural projects.
After the vote, Board of Education President Barbara Berkowitz said, “Today’s Bond Proposition came at the conclusion of years of meetings and assessing the needs of our school district. While we have always maintained that this was the community’s bond, it is clear that portions of the community who were not in favor have spoken,” she continued.
“More upsetting than this loss is the fact that this bond has polarized our community. Therefore, before we can contemplate our next step, we will need to determine how best to repair this fracture,” Berkowitz concluded. “Our disappointment is obvious, but we will continue to do all in our power to address the needs of our children, our schools and our community.”
Maura Rutkin, whose three children have graduated from both North and South, said that she “voted No because this bond appeared to be a giant Band-Aid, covering wounds that only major surgery will repair.” She doesn’t feel that the current bond was addressing things that would make the district future-thinking. “I would rather triple the bond and pay $1,000 extra in taxes if a Realtor could show my house in 10 years and tell a prospective buyer that the school system has things that they can’t get anywhere else.”
Many parents were extremely disappointed because they said that “our schools are sorely in need of renovations and expansions” and “so many families move to Great Neck because of the schools.”
Mimi Hu of the Great Neck Chinese Association (GNCA) said, “I think it is wonderful that people care so much about our community and I am confident that we will be able to overcome our differences. The discussions are important because we learn each side’s merits. The fact that the referendum only lost by 113 votes made me hopeful about next time. We should do a better job educating our community before the next vote, and the GNCA will hold another voter registration drive this summer.”
Rebecca Yousefzadeh Sassouni, a parent and member of the Citizens Advisory Committee reflects, “If there is any silver lining beyond the relatively small margin between Yes and No votes, it is that more voters are engaged than ever and, hopefully, more will become involved in the future. We will all have to come together to secure its future for the sake of all of Great Neck’s children and all of our investors in property on this peninsula.”
Read additional opinions from community members: “Why I Voted No To School Bond” and “Concerned About Bond Failure.” See “Vote For The School Bond Referendum On Feb. 14” to see what the bond was slated to upgrade.