After residents voted against a $13 million bond referendum to upgrade facilities at both high schools in Demarest and Old Tappan, on March 10th 2015, the Board of Education President Lou Delisio said to the public that the trustees have had some very “preliminary discussions” as to what they will do next.
“The taxpayers spoke loud and clearly on how they felt about this last referendum,” Delisio said. “So I think it’s safe to say at this point we need to sit down and discuss possibly going out for another referendum, what projects we would maybe eliminate, would we go for two questions, how would we break it up differently and how would we market it differently.”
One major point of contention regarding the referendum was the new building for the Junction program, which would have cost $1,050,258. Latner suggested the district consider using the historic Lustron house, which the Borough of Closter owns.
The Junction program allows students with disabilities, ages 18 to 21, to learn life skills. Currently, the program is located in a building on Station Court in Closter, but the program is in need of additional space.
DeLisio said the earliest the district could go out for referendum again is September 2015.
WHAT IS A BOND REFERENDUM? A bond referendum is when a Board of Education seeks voter approval to undertake capital improvement projects to a school and to finance such projects through a long-term loan (a bond).
WHY IS A BOND REFERENDUM NEEDED? A bond referendum is the only way that a Board can borrow money to finance capital improvements over a long period of time. Otherwise, major improvements can only be done in small increments over a long period of time.
Since the State Department of Education deemed almost all of the projects eligible for the highest level of aid the State has committed to pay 36% of the eligible costs of the projects. This would have resulted in the taxpayers only responsible for 64% of the costs.
With the approved 36% funding from the State, the referendum projects were estimated to cost the average assessed homes in each municipality per year as follows:
- Closter $49.36
- Demarest $57.29
- Harrington Park $43.80
- Haworth $59.96
- Norwood $45.50
- Old Tappan $65.04
Click here for more information about the referendum
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