By MARK VILLANUEVA, Moorestown Board of Education member
In this column, Moorestown Board of Education Members, Mark Villanueva and Maurice Weeks provide monthly updates on what’s going on in the school district and on the BOE.
If your family is anything like mine, summer came to a screeching halt. While just a few weeks removed, summer seems ages away, and we are now back in full swing of another busy school year, filled with the excitement of setting and achieving new goals. Best of luck to all our students, parents, staff and administration in the 2019–2020 school year!
The board held no public meetings in July, and the focus of the board’s August public meeting was the proposed bond referendum, which may now total approximately $26.3 million (as opposed to the previous estimate of $25.6 million). The board’s referendum committee explained to the board and those attending the meeting that the committee is now recommending that two separate questions be posed to the public on a voting ballot. The first question would seek approval of approximately $23 million in construction expenses, about 28 percent of which would be borne by the state. The second question would seek an additional $3.5 million for additional construction costs, about 4 percent of which would be paid for by the state. Although one of the three stated purposes of the referendum is security, the referendum committee does not recommend that the security aspects of the project be set forth as a standalone question to voters.
The referendum committee also advised that the referendum questions would not be placed on the Nov. 5 general election ballot. Instead, the board may place the questions on a ballot for a special election in December, which would cost an additional $14,000 for our taxpayers. While the referendum committee advised that it will consider delaying the referendum to the November 2020 general election — which would eliminate the $14,000 cost, provide more time to evaluate our population and place the election at a time to secure the highest voter turnout — it appears likely that a special election will be held in December. If a special election is approved by the board, please pay close attention to the location of the voting polls and the times they are open. Polling locations will likely not open for voting until the mid-late afternoon, and voting hours will be more restricted than in a general election (which contributes to a lower voter turnout for special elections). Your voting location may also be different from where you vote in a general election.
At its next meeting on Sept. 17, the board will likely vote to approve or disapprove the proposed changes to the referendum. Assuming a majority of the board approves the referendum, it will ultimately be up to the voting public to decide if the proposed $26.3 million project makes sense and justifies a long-term increase in taxes. There are differing views on the referendum, and I encourage you to be informed of all the facts and opinions as you head to the polls.
The views and content in this column do not necessarily represent those of the Moorestown Board of Education as a whole or any other individual member.