In November, Moorestown residents will vote on whether to approve a $25.6 million bond referendum for construction at all of the district’s school buildings and administration building. The school district proposes the construction project to create additional space, improve security and advance the sustainability of existing structures. If voters approve the referendum, third grade students will move out of the elementary schools and to the UES, and sixth grade students will move to WAMS. As a member of the Board of Education, I voted against the proposed referendum for several reasons, including that student enrollment is below where it was 10 years ago, and that future population increases are very uncertain. I’m also concerned about the impact the proposed project will have on our current and future taxes.
In my view, the safety and security of our students, teachers and staff is critically important. Yet, safety and security measures comprise a small fraction of the cost of the project ($937,500 of $25.6 million). If security measures are bundled with the entire project, security is at risk of not being approved by voters, who understandably may be reluctant to approve a $25.6 million project. The security measures should be unbundled from the rest of the project, such that voters have the choice to prioritize the safety of our children, even if voters disapprove the remaining $24.7 million features of the project (including a new $3 million gymnasium at WAMS).
The board may decide the ballot questions at its next meeting on Aug. 20. If you believe security should be the priority, ask the board to unbundle the ballot questions and allow voters to approve security first.
The views above do not necessarily represent those of the Moorestown Board of Education or any other individual member.
Mark Villanueva, board of education member