RANDOLPH, NJ- On Oct. 2 an important referendum vote is being held in Randolph. The School district and The Board of Education has provided pertinent information so that community members are educated before the vote.
See below to stay informed, all of these facts and questions have been available on rtnj.org as well :
What is a Referendum?
It is a public vote to approve issuing bonds that finance school construction projects, including major renovations.
Why does Randolph need a Referendum?
The capital needs of our District exceed our annual budget. Thebudget covers the costs of teachers’ salaries and benefits, curriculum needs, and transportation, leaving about $3M for capital improvements. Most of that is spent on caring for basic infrastructure and emergencies, with a small amount allocated to special projects like the RHS culinary arts room ($1M) or the RMS auditorium ($1M). So, as you can see, there is not much money left for other projects and security enhancements.
Why is now the right time?
We have retiring debt that can be reinvested, while taking advantage of current interest rates and a NJ state debt service aid program that refunds 40% of the cost of major capital projects included in the Referendum. It DOES NOT apply to capital projects funded out of our annual budget.
That means residents will only pay 60% of the cost of the projects included in the Referendum, saving taxpayers over $6M (See Column D below). In short, Randolph will get $24M worth of upgrades and improvements to the schools with NO INCREASE IN TAXES. These projects, including security improvements, will get done much faster and for less money.
What if the Referendum does not pass?
The average household may see a reduction in their local taxes of up
to $130/year. However, the District will not be able to address many of the needs of our students: overhauling our music rooms, 14 science rooms in RHS, the RMS culinary arts room and other smaller projects. Absent the Referendum, these projects will take many years to complete and some may not get done at all because they exceed what can be done under the annual budget. The State recently reduced this year’s state aid to our District by more than $500,000, making it even more unlikely that any of the projects will be accomplished anytime soon. In the short term, not much will change.
What will students see at school if the Referendum passes?
Column B on the chart on the rtnj.org website identifies the projects to be completed at each of the schools. The District will also be able to increase parking at RHS, add facilities to DaSilva field and increase classroom space to accommodate popular programs. The Referendum will also provide the flexibility to use future budget capital to address more needs as they arise.
When is the vote? October 2, 2018
LINK TO RTNJ REFERENDUM INFO AND VIDEO HERE: https://www.rtnj.org/2018referendum
FACEBOOK LINK TO REFERENDUM VIDEO: https://www.facebook.com/RandolphSchools/videos/270965930188668/
More details and Frequently asked questions:
• A Bond Referendum seeks public approval by vote for the financing of major school construction projects.
• The Referendum specifies projects and amounts of money to be raised. Once approved, bonds are issued and paid back over a number of years.
• If this referendum passes, the state will fund $6.5 million, which represents direct savings to the taxpayer.
Where do I vote and what are the polling hours?
• October 2nd: 6 AM – 8 PM at your usual polling location
What are my options to learn more about the Referendum?
• BOE meetings
• Business office
• Email firstname.lastname@example.org
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What if the referendum expenditures total more or less than the amount approved by tax payers?
• The bond proposal amount is the not to exceed cost of the project. It may only be raised in rare circumstances with voter approval under state law. Any unspent bond proceeds may only be used to pay off principal of obligations issued to fund the project. What happens if the referendum is not passed by the tax payers?
• The projects such as the high school science and music rooms would at best be cared for over the next decade, and at worst, never get done.
Has the district been involved in previous referendums?
• Yes the following referendums were presented to tax
• 1996 total was $13,400,000
• 1998 total was $11,500,000
• 2003 total was $42,000,000 – rejected
• 2004 total was $24,714,000 (HS aux gym, track
and lights, music and art wing,
• 2011 total was $11,667,000 (air conditioning in
elementary schools, turf fields, HS auditorium)
You say that security focused projects became a priority, but it seems that most are being done in the same time frame as the original Capital Plan.
• The biggest and most costly change was accelerating the implementation of the security vestibules.
• Rather than stagger this work over two or three years, we have pulled this to be an immediate project. It will create a double door entry system for each school to provide an additional barrier against unauthorized entry.
• We will also be able to move projects, such as the rekey work which is a new room lock system that allows access for only those allowed in any particular room, to be accomplished sooner than the regular capital plan will allow.
How was the list of projects for the referendum decided?
• The project list was created with input from many members ofthis township.
• In the fall/winter of 2017/2018, there were six meetings held with representatives of many stakeholder groups: senior citizens, students, teachers, RAC, parents, VPAC, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, etc. These were led by a moderator who solicited input using many techniques.
• That input was then coupled with the capital plans from the administration and they created a list of priorities.
Didn’t the District just receive a budget cut?
• Yes, the state has reduced the current aid that they provide the District by about $500,000.
• The effect is that we have lost that money from our budget and we have been told to expect further reductions of $1,000,000 per year for the next six years.
When those aid cuts happen, what gets cut?
• That will be a year-by-year decision based upon the amountof cut and the circumstances at the time.
• However, the "easiest" place to cut is capital if the referendum passes, as we would still be caring for the
demanded security projects and a great deal of maintenance work.
If the referendum passes, can the money be used for anything? Can it be added into the annual budget?
• No. The referendum projects are rigidly defined and have been submitted to the county and state.
• The ONLY projects that can be done with the referendum dollars are those that been defined and, subsequently, approved by the county and state.
How do bond sales and school debt work?
• It is similar in concept to having a mortgage on your house, but not as straightforward. For example, following is how the 1996 and 1998 Referendums were funded:
• 1996: Bond Sale “A” = $13,440,000 made in 1998 with 20-year payback
• 1998: $11,500,000 was TWO Bond Sales
• Bond Sale “B” = $1,500,000 made in 1998 with a 10-year payback
• Bond Sale “C” = $10,000,000 made in 1999 with a 20-year payback
• After the initial sale, debt from the bonds can be further managed to take advantage of better interest rates. Again, similar to a re-mortgage on a house to reduce payments and/or change payment schedules.
• 2005: Bond “A” and Bond “C” were refinanced for better rates but keeping same term.
• 2015: Bond “A” and Bond “C” were again refinanced for better rates but keeping same term.
• Thus, we will have debt rolling off of the books in both the 2018/19 and 2019/20 budgets. It is the replacement of this debt with new bond sales that allows us to afford the current referendum with no increase in our Randolph taxes.
• It is anticipated that $13,600,000 will be sold in 2018 and $10,895,000 will be sold in 2019, for a total of $24,495,000. State debt service aid covers $6,454,000, leaving $18,041,000 as our share.