Letters to the Editor

The School Referendum, Fact vs. Myth

  •  Myth No. 1 – “The referendum financing will be paid from the operating budget, which is roughly $1,000,000 annually that can’t be spent otherwise (STEM classrooms, Full Day Kindergarten, Special Ed Services).”  Fact: The referendum is financed separately from the operating budget. The bond payments do not come out of the annual operating budget. The Referendum has no effect whatsoever on what can be spent on any program in the operating budget.
  • Myth No. 2 – “The BOE did not listen to residents concerning making the referendum multiple questions instead of just one.” Fact: There were three town hall meetings. During these more people voiced their opinion in favor of having only one question than those who opposed that format (it was 80 percent in favor at meeting No. 1 and 50 percent at meetings No. 2 and No. 3).
  • Myth No. 3 – “The BOE proposes to build this new PAC on the grass oval in front of the Chatham Middle School because they are repurposing the existing CMS auditorium in order to build new Administrative offices (for both the BOE and the School’s Superintendent) and classrooms.” Fact:  Board of Education members do not have any office space within the district offices, nor will they have any office space as a result of the proposed referendum. All of the current Board of Education members work full-time as volunteers, either inside their homes, or outside of their homes at places of employment. To be clear BOE offices house school district employees.
  • Myth No. 4 – There is very little savings from moving the BOE offices (14 people) from the Chatham Township municipal building to a more centralized and logical location at the middle school. Fact: The school district incurs $85,000 of hard costs annually to occupy the current location of the district offices, and additional soft costs such as running the interoffice mail loop to and from the offices on a daily basis.These costs would be eliminated if the district offices were to move to a property owned by the school district.
  • Myth No. 5 – The debt payments associated with this plan are extremely high and will be a burden on the district for the foreseeable future causing cuts to existing programs. Fact: The tax impact of this referendum compared to the 2005 project is more than 50 percent less in both the Borough and the Township. That 2005 plan did not put undue stress upon the school district. This referendum would not change our AAA bond rating.
  • Myth No. 6 – This referendum is wasteful. Fact: Currently Chatham spends significantly less than surrounding towns to educate our students. The proposed referendum is a carefully crafted package designed to address facilities needs of the Arts, Academics, and Athletics for Chatham’s AAA school district. We have one computer lab at the middle school, no space for stem/robotics, and two auditoriums. One is almost 40 years old and the other is almost 60 years old. Our districts needs have changed greatly, as enrollment is up plus 27 percent since 2005 alone
  • Myth No. 7 In the event that this referendum fails The BOE will propose another one this year. Fact: The current Board of Education has not had discussions regarding a future referendum.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

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