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Board splits bond vote

BC Facilities, athletic turf to be separate referendums, public hearing Jan. 16

Bethlehem Central High School

Bethlehem Central High School

— The Bethlehem Central School District Board of Education has elected to split the proposal for facilities upgrades and a new athletic turf into two bond resolutions to go before the public.

On Wednesday, Jan. 2, board members unanimously agreed on what should be included in the facilities bond and if the plan should include a turf field with track. The facilities bond would include all priority one and half of the district’s priority two projects, and the field portion would include a new track with two additional lanes.

“My concern is that, based on the community input that I’ve been getting, it seems to me the only controversial element of this is the field and I would hate to endanger the main bond proposition because the community is opposed to the field,” said board member Michael Cooper.

The main facility bond would total $20.7 million and include major repairs to building roofs, ventilation systems, drainage improvements for fields, masonry and bathroom upgrades, among other improvements. Some of the work would also be eligible for energy performance contracting funds.

A major item within the plan that was up for debate Wednesday was the inclusion of internal cameras within the middle and high schools. The installation of cameras inside the buildings would cost $200,000, and some board members said they felt cameras to be an invasion of privacy for students.

“In a lot of studies it shows that the morale of the students goes down, there often is mistrust between students and administration once you put in the cameras, and I think it’s sending the kids the wrong message,” said board member Laura Bierman.

Board member Caitrin Navarro agreed.

“I think they’re more negative than positive, too,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a safety if no one is watching (the cameras). It’s strictly to catch kids doing things.”

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