CHATHAM, NJ - Board president Jill Critchley Weber read a prepared statement, explaining the plan to use $2.1 million in capital reserve funds to demolish the old Department of Special Services building and construct a new building that will also house district administrative offices Monday at the regular meeting of the Chatham Board of Education.

The BOE approved the expenditure at its reorganization meeting on Jan. 9. Chatham resident Mike Ryan questioned the Chatham Township Committee at its meeting on Jan. 19 about the arrangement between the township and district, which rents space for its offices at the municipal building located at 48 Myersville Rd.

The BOE will be approving its tentative 2017-'18 budget 6:30 p.m. March 6, at an open finance committee meeting in the Chatham Township Municipal Building.

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Board president Jill Critchley Weber says that the space at the municipal building is "insufficient," for the board administrative offices, especially since the special services staff must move into the same building.

Weber explained that the executive county superintendent approved the request by Chatham to use its capital reserve funds to replace the Department of Special Services building. 

"The use of capital reserve funds has no impact on taxes," Weber said. "Capital reserve funds cannot be used for operating expenses such as hiring additional teachers, counselors, health care expenses and other needs. The use of capital reserve does not increase taxes."

Weber explains the board's view on capital reserve and the use of $2.1 million to replace the special services building and house the BOE administrative offices in a new structure.

Chatham resident Bill Heap doesn't think the BOE should "be in the real estate business" and asks the board to reconsider its plan to move the administrative offices out of the municipal building

At this time, the board is considering whether to construct the new building at the current site of the Department of Special Services or to build behind Gym C at Chatham High School, which would allow for classrooms to be built on the second floor, if needed, in the future.

"We're assessing every possible location," Chatham Superintendent Dr. Michael LaSusa said. "One of them of course is the current location of the special services building. We want to make sure we analyze ever possible space we could place the building. Another space is right behind the C Gym of the high school. If we built a one-story structure there, we oould potentially build second story for classrooms if we needed additional classrooms in the future. Those are the two primary sites we're looking at."

In other business, Peter Daquila, board secretary/administrator, announced that Chatham will save $590,000 in interest over the length of the 20-year bond sold to finance the $15.8 capital improvement projects approved through a referendum vote on Sept. 27, 2016. The interest rate Chatham will pay is 2.9 percent compared to the projected rate of 3.25 percent.