Hamilton Township voters will be able to have their say Tuesday, Sept. 26 on a $55.4M school facilities referendum, after the Hamilton Township Board of Education approved the measure in late June.
The school board had postponed in December 2016 a public vote on a similar referendum scheduled for last winter. Funds would be used to finance repairs and upgrades in each of the district’s 24 schools. The average tax bill would increase by $4.36 per month.
“The referendum proposed to the community addresses long standing facility problems, safety concerns, and security issues. The items in the referendum only focus on the most serious issues that must be addressed to maintain our school buildings and provide our students and staff a safe learning environment,” school superintendent Scott R. Rocco said in a statement, adding that every item included in the referendum addresses an immediate need.
The Hamilton Township School District has 17 elementary schools, three middle schools, three high schools, and one alternative high school. The average age of its schools is 70 years old, with 21 of the district’s buildings more than 50 years old, and six that are at least 100 years old.
The referendum, if approved, would provide funding to improve security measures in all schools, install window film at entries at all schools, replace failing windows at 11 schools, install safety film at 10 schools, repair leaking and out of warranty areas of roofing, repair or replace “flat” and shingle areas at six schools, fix failing, deteriorated and structurally deficient areas in ceilings at seven schools, and upgrade eight one-story buildings to enable ADA accessibility. It also addresses failing steam piping at Nottingham High, critical masonry repairs at Hamilton High West and Mercerville Elementary, structural reinforcements at Klockner Elementary, lower level egress at Greenwood Elementary, kitchen drainage at Hamilton High West and site drainage at six schools.
Rocco said the majority of work would take place over the summer when students, teachers and staff are on vacation. However, there are a few projects—which can be done without interfering with instruction—that may be started before the end of the school year, should the measure pass.
A PowerPoint presentation that outlines the repairs and upgrades can be accessed by clicking on the “referendum” button on the district’s website, hamilton.k12.nj.us. Rocco also plans to schedule several community meetings to discuss the referendum.
According to materials distributed by the school district, 40 percent of costs from the referendum will be offset by state share funding, if the referendum passes. This state funding is not available to Hamilton taxpayers without passage of the referendum.