December 13, 2019

Greenport local union urges bond act for safer and healthier schools

Author: Matt Smith
Source:  NYSUT Communications
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capital improvement

UPDATE: A win for Greenport as voters approve revised bond by wide margin. Hard work (and a righteous cause!) paid off for Greenport Teachers Association members Tuesday night, as voters approved a revised capital improvement bond by a wide margin. Suffolk Times, Dec. 17, 2019, 8:10 p.m.

Throughout the hallways of the Greenport school building on Long Island, there are more than 1,600 cracked tiles. Towels placed under windows to soak up incessant leaks are not an uncommon sight in classrooms. Neither is garbage bags placed over inoperable urinals in restrooms not upgraded in 40 years.

There are holes in walls, ceiling tiles discolored by water damage, and decaying floors under old, faulty radiators. And the district — perpetually at the mercy of its decrepit infrastructure — runs on an aged ventilation system installed in 1971.

On Tuesday, Dec. 17, voters in the Greenport Union Free School District will cast their ballots on a $17 million capital improvement plan.

greenport disrepair
Water damage and disrepair are common sights in classrooms in the Greenport Union Free School District . On Tuesday, voters will cast their ballots on a $17 million capital improvement plan. Photo provided.

So critical is the proposed bond — not only for the future of the district’s physical plant, but also to the education of its students — that members of the Greenport Teachers Association have waged a relentless advocacy campaign to ensure a favorable outcome at the polls.

“The positive impact of the bond’s passage in terms of student learning cannot be overstated,” said Greenport TA President Rebecca Lillis. “First and foremost, our students deserve a safe and secure learning environment. The bond will also establish various program enhancements to benefit our students. We want a healthy and safe working environment for everyone.”

This is the second bond vote since June, when voters initially defeated the ballot by 23 votes. District officials, taking nothing for granted, have since reduced the cost of this bond by $7 million.

greenport disrepair

Also not taking voters for granted are Greenport TA members, who have been tireless in their work to push for the bond’s passage. The local has run phone banks, distributed literature, organized mailings, written letters to the editor, made calls, and met with community groups to advocate for the bond’s approval.

Lillis said a favorable outcome at the polls would help teachers working in an 86-year-old building that’s fallen into disrepair to “deliver instruction for the 21st Century.” And, she added, it would ensure a better learning environment for children and an enhanced working environment for staff.

“The present condition of the building requires serious attention to ensure the health and safety of students and staff,” she said. “When taken together, each element of the proposed upgrades to the school building creates the conditions needed for better collaboration and a welcoming space for the school community.”


Tuesday’s vote will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. in the Greenport school gymnasium.

“The Board of Education worked diligently to reduce the cost of the plan while maintaining the integrity of the project,” said Lillis, who called passage of the proposed bond “critical.”

“These upgrades,” she said, “are necessary to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment.”

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