HAWTHORNE, NJ - On Tuesday, Hawthorne went to the polls to decide whether to approve a referendum to renovate the public school system, a project coming to the tune of $24.4 million. Approximately two-thirds of the voters said "Yes" to the ballot question, which will start the ball rolling for one of the largest overhauls in the public schools, affecting items from roof work, to more efficient boilers, new windows, secure doors, aesthetic improvements, removal of asbestos, technological upgrades, and more.
"The renovations are expected to be completed in approximately three years," Richard Spirito, Superintendent of Schools, said. "We will be meeting to develop the project schedule over the next few weeks and will begin renovations as soon as possible."
"We are grateful for the trust and the support the public has given us," said Board of Education Vice President Alexander Clavijo. "The future of the district is promising. The groundwork has been laid and we look forward now to seeing it go to the next level. We are fortunate to be part of this great community of ours!"
"We are very appreciative of the overwhelming voter support and truly excited about the future of the Hawthorne Public Schools," Spirito said. "The items in this referendum will provide much-needed facility upgrades as well as state of the art educational spaces for students in all five of our schools. On behalf of everyone in the Hawthorne Public Schools, we want to thank our parents and community members for supporting this referendum and the children of Hawthorne."
Residents voted 1,360 in favor and 619 against, or 68% to 32%. According to the unofficial results released by the borough, the referendum turn out among voters was low. Only 12.79% of registered voters cast a ballot, 1,774 out of 13,866, on a matter which would directly affect their property taxes and the state of the public school system.
While the total cost for the renovation project is $24,388,000, the Board of Education has said that debt service aid from Trenton would cover $9,569,000, leaving the district to cover $14,869,000. According to the Board of Education, the money borrowed will be coming through the sale of bonds paid back over the next 20 years. Based upon a Hawthorne home value assessed at $182,222, which is asserted to be the average, taxpayers will be looking at an expected tax increase of $6.91 per month or $82.91 per year.
At the same time, a borough-wide re-evaluation is ongoing with certified assessors visiting every property in the borough.
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