We are writing in response to a letter to the editor that appeared in the May 16, 2017, issue of the WWP News (“Hawk addition needs a referendum”) concerning the proposed expansion of the Maurice Hawk Elementary School.
As has been reported in this paper and elsewhere, the WW-P Board of Education anticipates an enrollment increase at Maurice Hawk and Village schools of approximately 200-250 students as early as September 2019.
These students are expected to come from new developments already approved or expected to be approved in the very near future and do not include those that may come from any new construction on the Howard Hughes property. It is not possible to accommodate these additional children without increasing class sizes to unacceptable levels unless additional classrooms are built.
Our superintendent has attended many public meetings to discuss residential growth, school capacity, and the Hawk addition. Information had been presented at several board meetings, giving the public multiple opportunities for comment.
The recent board action to designate funds from the district’s Capital Reserves to meet the immediate need at Maurice Hawk allows the district to proceed with the design and State approval process necessary to begin construction in early 2018 so as to have classroom space available when these students arrive.
A recent letter to the editor included some incorrect information. It stated that by going through a bond referendum, the state would refund the district $5 million of a $12.5 million project. This is not accurate.
By issuing debt, the district could apply to the state for “debt service relief” (with no guarantee it would be granted), which could provide approximately $1.7 million over the 20 years that the district would be paying off the bonds.
However, the district would incur substantial interest expenses over that 20-year period, and the interest costs would significantly exceed any debt service relief that the district could receive from the state.
Funding the Hawk addition by using capital reserves, rather than a bond referendum, is the fiscally responsible choice for our school district. And it is the right choice if one cares about providing the classroom space for our students when it is needed, rather than too late.
These are our personal opinions. We are not speaking for the entire school board.
— Anthony Fleres and Louisa Ho
Fleres is president and Ho is a member of the WW-P Board of Education.