Dear Watchung Hills Regional High School Community,
On Thursday, October 6, 2022, you will be asked to vote on a referendum to fund a number of projects from our Long Range Facilities Plan, listed below. I would like to take this opportunity to provide you with information on the upcoming referendum, which will have no impact financially on taxpayers.
What will the referendum fund?
- Redesign Existing Spaces into New Robotics and STEAM Labs
- Nurse’s Office Alterations
- Ceramics & Photography Lab Alterations
- Locker Room ⅚ and Trainer’s room Alterations
- South Cafeteria Annex Upgrades
- OT/PT Upgrades
- Chiller Replacements
- PAC LED Lighting Upgrade
The selection of these projects from our long range facilities plan to include in the referendum is not arbitrary. The Board and administration participated in a thoughtful process to prioritize our list of projects in terms of safety, educational impact, and affordability. The upgrades and renovations of our learning spaces are an outgrowth of our 5 Year Strategic Plan through which we have established a district goal to “Integrate creative, innovative, and interdisciplinary learning throughout the district to empower and inspire students to succeed in a changing global community.”
By passing the referendum for these projects, the State of New Jersey will reimburse the Watchung Hills Regional High School District up to 40% of the cost of the project. The savings will go back into capital reserve for future projects without burdening taxpayers in the future.
Watchung Hills has been underfunded by the State since the state aid formula was introduced during the 2008-2009 school year. State debt service aid is one way our community is able to recoup some of our tax dollars. A successful referendum results in our district getting up to $3.2 million in State debt service aid toward the cost of the projects.
I would like to reiterate that this bond referendum has no impact financially on taxpayers. An affirmative vote will save the district up to 40% of the total cost of the projects. The Board expects to fund the remaining local share (approximately 60%) of the project using our own capital reserve funds. Should the referendum not pass, we will look to scale back the projects to what we are able to fund with our allotted capital reserve without the State of New Jersey’s reimbursement via debt service aid.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our School Business Administrator, Timothy Stys, at 908-647-4800, ext. 4850, or my office at 908-647-4800, ext. 4890.
Thank you for your attention to this significant financial issue impacting the Watchung Hills Regional High School District.
Elizabeth C. Jewett, Ph.D.