I am writing this letter to the editor to set the record straight regarding the incorrect information that WW-P School Board president Anthony Fleres and board member Louisa Ho presented in their letter to the editor in the May 30 issue of the News.
First let’s talk about capital reserves. Capital reserves is an account that the district has for “just in case” situations. For example, if an HVAC breaks down in the middle of the winter, then the district can dig into this account to pay for the HVAC. The capital reserves account by law, can only be used for infrastructure, i.e. to fix something or to build something.
Comparing other school districts to ours, the capital reserves account is as follows: Robbinsville School District, $54,000, Cranbury School District, $2.4 million; Princeton Public Schools, $3.5 million.
The fact that WWP has $20.5 million in capital reserves tells me that the administration is hoarding money.
The problem is that the board of education and the administration can use that money for school expansion and construction without a referendum. This is far from being a democratic process. We all pay taxes and we all care about the schools, therefore, we should have a say how to spend our hard earned dollars.
The other issue that Mr. Fleres and Ms. Ho raise in their letter is that the amount of money the town could get in state aid for a project approved by a referendum is incorrect. During a presentation by Superintendent David Aderhold on May 4 about student growth, I asked Aderhold if the district would get a grant if they do a bond referendum, and he said, “yes, somewhere between a 15 percent to 30 percent.”
Therefore, once again I am not sure if Mr. Fleres and Ms. Ho are trying to provide incorrect information to the community. The state always gives the district money. Of course the district has to apply for the grant, however, as long as all the paperwork is in order and presented on time, there is no reason for the state not to give the money to the district. That is simply not accurate and it is a strategy to cause panic and fear in the community.
Given the fact that WW-P has a AAA bond rating, the district can borrow money at a very low rate, as low as 3.5 to 4 percent. Therefore, had WW-P done a bond referendum and borrowed $12.5 million for the Maurice Hawk expansion at a fixed interest rate of 4 percent, the interest that the school pays on a yearly basis is $500,000, and it would not be necessary to keep raising taxes.
The school would be receiving 20 or 30 percent in state aid, which is $2.4 million to $3.6 million, which helps offset the amount of interest paid.
Since this administration took office, our taxes have gone up 2.33 percent every year. The seniors who have been residents of West Windsor for over 20 years and live on a fixed income cannot keep on paying these astronomic taxes.
In addition, the administration is saying that the number of students will increase by 3,000, in part due to the Howard Hughes project. Once again that is a very bold statement, given the fact that West Windsor residents oppose Howard Hughes and it is unlikely to happen.
The most astonishing thing of all is that the school district does not have a demographic report. Nobody knows for sure how many seats are available in each school.
On June 6, the board of education voted to pay $37,000 to a consultant for a demographic report. Once again this clearly shows how the cart is put before the horse.
We do not know how many available seats WW-P has, however, we will build 16 classrooms. How do we know we need 16 classrooms and not 21? Or maybe just 10?
There is no CEO in corporate America that will allow an investment of $12.5 million without having all the facts, and a very clear vision of what is going on. Why does the administration and the board of education insist on doing things backwards?
— Veronica Mehno, West Windsor