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Mount Vernon Seeks Improvements To Schools Infrastructure With $108M Bond

Mount Vernon taxpayers will soon have the opportunity to vote on the proposed $108 million schools bond.
Mount Vernon taxpayers will soon have the opportunity to vote on the proposed $108 million schools bond. Video Credit: Richard McCormack

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - With one week left before a potentially pivotal vote on more than $100 million in school bonds, Mount Vernon officials are hosting a final bond presentation at Grimes Elementary on Monday.

After months of public presentations, discussion and debate, it’s nearly decision time for Mount Vernon taxpayers as the March 15 vote on the $108 million schools bond to “facilitate the district leadership’s vision to improve the quality of instruction, enhance programs and services and close achievement gaps,” nears.

School and city brass have been busy since the Board of Education unanimously voted to pursue the bond in January, hosting a series of informational meetings and building tours to both emphasize the importance of approving the bond and to show taxpayers some of the district’s crumbling infrastructure that stands to be addressed if the vote passes.

Beginning at 5:45 p.m. on Monday at the Grimes School, officials will be on hand for a final bond presentation as they encourage taxpayers to vote "yes" on the district's "20/20 Vision."

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.

Additionally, it includes wide-sweeping improvements, districtwide, under Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton’s “20/20 Vision.” Under the 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.

“Pre-kindergarten students will begin their academic careers with a rigorous curriculum that will serve as a spring board to their long-term education,” Hamilton said. “This program will be based in our elementary buildings and our early childhood education learning center.”

Hamilton said that students who begin to learn at an earlier age will have more opportunities for success in the classroom as they move forward.

“These preschool, elementary and secondary school proposals will ensure all of our students are college and career ready,” he noted. “Our conversations with parents, business leaders and our elected officials reinforce that the status quo is no longer acceptable. We’re doing what we ask our students to do, which is ‘to innovate.’ And our students – who will be the future leaders in our community and our nation – will show us through their eventual college and career success that this bond referendum mattered in their lives.

"Short term research informs us that young children who participate in high-quality Pre-K programs enter kindergarten better prepared to learn."

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