HACKENSACK, N.J. -- The controversial school referendum that would have allowed the Hackensack Board of Education to bond $170 million was rejected tonight by approximately 77% of participating voters. According to early unofficial results, 620 "Yes" votes were cast to 2,135 "No" votes.
The measure, touted by the school district as a way to build a new school and make repairs in existing buildings, would have raised the average homeowner’s property taxes by more than $300 per year.
“I am of course happy with the outcome, but it was not unexpected," said Martin Cramer, a vocal opponent of the plan, and co-founder of the citizen’s group Hackensack Smart Schools, Inc., which successfully sued the BOE over misleading language used to suggest voters would only see their property taxes increase once, rather than over 30 years. "We worked very hard, we had a very disciplined hardworking group of people, and we were well prepared."
Of the $170 million, less than $70 million would have gone towards repairs to existing schools. The remainder, over $100 million before interest, and staffing and operating expenses, would go toward building a new grade 7-9 junior high school. That aspect of the plan proved to be particularly controversial, drawing opposition from the city's Mayor and City Council for its potential impact on taxpayers.
"This is a big victory, especially for our taxes and green space," said 72-year old resident Milko Milin. "They should work on the schools we already have before building a new school."
"This should be a message to the Board of Ed that they should go back to the drawing board and work on repairing and fixing up their schools before building new ones," said Cramer.