A review of the District Wide Facilities Renovation Program that will result in a vote for a referendum was presented by Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District officials and architect to the governing body of the Borough of Raritan on Tuesday, January 17.
On that evening during the Borough of Raritan Council’s scheduled public meeting, Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District Superintendent Bob Beers was joined by Frank Messineo, who is the president of Solutions Architecture, the firm that will handle the project, and Peter Starrs, the school district’s Business Administrator/Board Secretary.
The first order of business by the Raritan Council was the presentation opened by Superintendent Beers and then followed by Mr. Messineo, who spoke while discussing the two-part $155 million referendum broadcasted on a video screen in the room.
Mayor Zachary Bray, Council President Nicolas Carra, Councilman Adam Armahizer, Councilman David Fritzinger, Councilwoman Joan Hutlzer and Councilman Pablo Orozco listened during the presentation. Councilwoman Joyce Melitsky was not present at the meeting.
Mr. Messineo broke down each of the two questions and summarized the project costs for Referendum 2023 that will be voted on by the communities of Bridgewater Township and the Borough of Raritan on March 14.
He discussed the first of the two questions, asking residents in both communities to approve $120 million to upgrade all 11 of the district schools, which will have a zero tax impact.
As Mr. Messineo explained, the second question can be approved only if the first question passes. The second question proposes an addition to the Middle School, creating a traditional middle school environment spanning grades 6-8. Adding sixth grade to the current Middle School would free up space at the primary schools, allowing the district to implement a full-day kindergarten program. Under this proposal, the Primary schools will include grades K-3, Intermediate schools will include grades 4-5, and the Middle School will include grades 6-8.
Bridgewater-Raritan is one of just 11 school districts in New Jersey that do not offer full-day kindergarten. Superintendent Beers made a point to reveal that fact to the Borough Council and the residents who attended the meeting.
As Mr. Messineo further explained, Question No. 2 has a projected cost of $34 million. The passing of Question No. 2 would increase the tax on an average Bridgewater home that is assessed at $465,000 by $111 per year and average home in Raritan that is assessed at $321, 630 by $84 a year.
These projections are based on a 4.5 percent interest rate.
However, the State of New Jersey is offering $42 million in debt service aid. That savings would result in a final cost of $83,766,396 for the Question No. 1 project and $29,388,077 for Question No. 2 project.
The total cost for the Referendum 2023 would be $113,154,779.
There is an additional question scheduled during the general election in November that will ask the two communities to approve the total operation costs of the full-day kindergarten at a figure of $2,460,000.
The session before the governing body of Raritan is just one of the numerous meetings that the school district officials have scheduled to prepare both communities about the Referendum 2023.
Each of the 11 school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) officers and members served as the host at their school to a Referendum 2023 meeting while various school parent groups and community organizations have heard and will hear the word.
The Community Forum is slated for Tuesday, February 21, and is open for all residents to attend. That meeting will be held in the Bridgewater-Raritan High School auditorium at 6 p.m.
The Education Foundation of Bridgewater-Raritan will hold its annual “An Evening Out for Education” fund-raising dinner on Friday, February 24, at the Somerville Elks Lodge. The affair will begin at 6 p.n., with a brief presentation of the Referendum 2023 to be shared by Superintendent Beers and Mr. Messineo scheduled for 6:45 p.m.
As Mr. Messineo reported at the Raritan Council meeting, the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District’s website has a landing page that fully explains and details Referendum 2023.
Click HERE for information on BRRSD Referendum 2023