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Mount Vernon Continues Exploring $108M Schools Bond

Mount Vernon Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton explaining the logistics of the proposed schools bond. Photo Credit: MVCSD
It was a capacity crowd in Mount Vernon, where school officials explored the possibility of a $100 million bond. Photo Credit: MVCSD
It was a capacity crowd in Mount Vernon, where school officials explored the possibility of a $100 million bond. Photo Credit: MVCSD

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - It was a full house over the weekend at the Chester Hill Park Neighborhood Association’s meeting in Mount Vernon, where dozens packed in to discussed the proposed $108 million school bond.

Late last month, the Mount Vernon School “voted unanimously to seek a bond totaling $108 million to facilitate the district leadership’s vision to improve the quality of instruction, enhance programs and services and close achievement gaps.”

The proposal represents no tax increase until the 2017-18 school year. Thereafter, the annual tax increase for residents with a home value of $315,000 would average a tax increase of $7.37 each month for the next 20 years, peaking in 2020 with a $12.92 monthly increase.

It will be put to a public vote on Tuesday, March 15.

The extensive proposal includes wide-sweeping improvements, districtwide, under Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton’s “20/20 Vision.” Under the “20/20 Vision” plan laid out by Hamilton, the district would implement full-day universal pre-kindergarten programs and include a restructuring of the district.

If approved, the plan would continue a transition toward the “K-8” model laid out by former interim Superintendent Judith Johnson. Under the plan, Pennington, Holmes, Traphagen, Lincoln and Columbus would become Pre-K-8 buildings; Williams, Grimes, Graham, Turner and Hamilton would becomes K-8 with the new Parker Early Learning Center for pre-kindergarten programs; with the Turner schools providing a K-5 and 6-8 model.

Hamilton believes that his “20/20 Vision” will provide a spark to Mount Vernon’s otherwise struggling schools.

“Mount Vernon is a community with many exceptional children who deserve an excellent school system, equipped to offer many different pathways to successful life,” he said. “The ’20/20 Vision’ provides a blueprint for Mount Vernon to become an outstanding, contemporary and progressive city school district that is rich in opportunity and innovation.

“In addition, to the ’20/20 Vision,’ this bond will provide the district with the financial resources needed to address long-standing infrastructure issues, creating a more comfortable, safer and technologically advanced learning environment for our students.”

If the bond is approved, once students enter high school, they will have their choice of entering one of three “schools of excellence,” which will provide specialized areas of study, as well as general education.

The A.B. Davis School would offer concentration in STEAM programs, Thornton High School would become the district’s performing arts high school for students in sixth through 12th grade and the Mount Vernon High School would be maintained, becoming “the district’s reinvigorated career and technical education program.”

According to school officials, “this initiative will ensure that all students receive a rigorous education and develop the necessary skills, which prepares them to be model citizens capable of competing in a global society.”

“The edict to improve our facilities and educational programs, while minimizing the tax burden is no easy feat,” Hamilton said. “With projected increases in state aid and the highest state reimbursement rate possible, the stars have aligned to make this bond possible with the least impact on the taxpayers of Mount Vernon.”

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