Chatham BOE to Hold Special Public Meeting on $25 Million Referendum, Wed., Jan. 28

Artists rendering of proposed performing arts center that would be built in front of the Chatham Middle School, the largest expenditure in the $25 million referendum that will be up for a vote in April Credits: TAP Chatham

CHATHAM, NJ - A special meeting of the School District of the Chathams Board of Education will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28 at the Chatham High School Auditorium, 255 Lafayette Ave.

The meeting is being held to hear feedback and questions from the public on a proposed $25 million referendum that will be on the ballot for approval by the public in April. Matthew Gilfillan, chairman of the finance committee, indicated at the board's Jan. 12 meeting that it will be a question-and-answer format.

At its Jan. 12 meeting the board reduced the referendum by $3.5 million to keep it at its original $25 million price tag by reducing the size of the proposed performing arts center from 1100 seat capacity to 975; reducing the amount of turf that will be installed behind the high school for baseball and softball, and shifting how the six new elementary school classrooms would be organized.

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The referendum had grown to $28 million with the addition of extra classrooms, but changes to the plan has put it back to the original figure of $25 million. Taxpayers will vote on the referendum in April as a separate second question, in addition to the regular school budget, which will also be on the ballot for approval. The board has indicated that it is against separating the projects in the referendum into separate questions.

 The reduction of seating in the performing arts center saves $1 million. Other cost-cutting moves included reducing the amount of space behind the high school to be turfed - a savings of $1.1 million, and reorganizing the new classrooms for the elementary schools - a savings of $1.48 million. In the latter plan, Southern Boulevard would not receive two new classrooms. Instead, two special education classes would be moved from Southern to Milton Avenue, freeing up two classes at Southern Boulevard.

Milton would get four new classrooms in a two-story plan and Washington Avenue would have two new classrooms built. The expansions are part of a plan to carve space out for full-day kindergarten in the future.



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