GLEN ROCK, NJ – On the heels of the March 12 passing of the referendum, the Board of Education on Tuesday authorized the sale of $14.7 million in school bonds.
Taxpayers passed the referendum with 1,035 in favor and 960 people opposed. School officials said the referendum is in-line with the board’s health and wellness goal. The project calls for new air-conditioning units in the school district’s four elementary schools, which will eliminate the need for early dismissals caused by high classroom temperatures and occasional heat stroke among schoolchildren given the nonworking thermostats in a number of classrooms that made learning difficult and at times, dangerous.
The playing field at Alexander Hamilton School will also see a makeover, which will include a new irrigation system and new sod that will regrow a natural grass playing field. A new fence will also be installed between the property and the PSE&G right-of-way.
The Central Auditorium will also benefit from the monies. A gut renovation is planned along with acoustical and seating improvements. The new structure will alleviate congestion at the high school auditorium, according to the business administrator.
Last but not least on the list, the media center at the Glen Rock Middle/High School will be revamped to stay current with 21stCentury learning. A new maker space area for middle school students will be partitioned off by a state-of-the-art broadcast studio for journalism students. Futuristic furniture is planned, in addition classroom space, new carpeting, lighting, HVAC improvements and ADA-compliant handicap ramps.
All projects are slated for completion by the start of the 2020 school year.
Because the air-conditioning units are being funded with a referendum, the district received 40 cents on the dollar back from the New Jersey Department of Education in state aid, bringing the project amount from $14.7 million to $10.2 million. This drove the tax impact for homeowners down from $185.82 to $175.20 per year, or $14.60 per month, on the average assessed home valued at $563,170.
The board is opting for a 15-year payoff plan, advice they're heeding from bond counsel. Sherry Tracey of Phoenix Advisors told the board at a meeting earlier this month that while taxpayers will pay an estimated $20-$30 more per year with this option, benefits include saving roughly $2 million in interest costs and getting rid of the debt five years sooner. July, she stated, is a prime time to sell the bonds, as she said the month is the “largest in reinvestment for bonds” when the “biggest influx of cash comes into the market.” Long-term interest rates, she added, have declined in the last six months "almost one percentage point," she said. Thus, the interest rates projected during the referendum process, said Tracey, are "a lot lower now."
Business Administrator Michael Rinderknecht said the first interest payment will begin on July 15, 2020 and the first principal payment will start on July 15, 2021. According to the resolution, “the bonds will bear interest payable semiannually” on Jan. 15 and July 15, 2020 through 2034 “until maturity or earlier redemption… at a rate or rates per annum expressed in a multiple of one-eighth or one-twentieth, of 1 percent and proposed by the successful bidder in accordance with the notice of sale.”
Beginning on July 15, 2021, the bonds will mature in the principal amounts from 2021 to 2034, the former being $853,000, the latter being $1,275,000.