Sussex County News

Newton Board of Education Goes Ahead with Merriam Expansion Bond Referendum

Credits: Danielle Francisco
Frank Leone of Christ Community Church speaks during public comments on the special ballot resolution Credits: Danielle Francisco
Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Credits: Jennifer Dericks

NEWTON, NJ—With an unanimous vote, seven members of the Newton Board of Education approved a resolution to hold a bond referendum to expand Merriam Avenue School in September.  

The board will ask the community to approve the "$18,950,001 school facilities renovation and expansion project" at a special school district election to be held on Tuesday, September 26, 2017.

Two members of the public, Frank Leone, a reverend at the Christ Community Church and Mayor Wayne Levante, spoke on the issue before the vote during the public session.

Sign Up for E-News

“I was wondering if it would be wise to put the information about how this will impact the taxpayers in the explanation when you put it on the ballot, as I know that when many go to vote on this they will be thinking ‘how will this affect me,’" Leone said.

Mayor Levante discussed a concern with the board in regards to staffing once the plan is completed at Merriam for the expansion.

There are "lots of concerns, [but] not because of the plan," Levante said. "I think consolidating is very good but if we don’t cut any staff members to get that $182,000 down, this isn’t going to pass and it is a waste of time. We really only have once chance to get this right.

"I think, given the amount of time and energy your board, my board and the professionals have put into this, we have to execute this perfectly. The perception from the public is that if you consolidate, you need to cut staff and it is my understanding so far that that is not going to happen.”

Superintendent, Dr. Ken Greene said, “Personnel decisions are regularly part of our budgeting process. We do it every year, so I believe it would be a misinterpretation to say we will do nothing about staffing. We will address that at the appropriate time and see what will become of that.

"I do want to acknowledge that our overall fiscal year 2017 budget was nearly $500,000 below what the state considers adequate, so cutting staff would not be consistent with the fact that were already not spending what the state considers to be adequate," Greene

Board member Anthony Neggers III, spoke during the discussion portion of the vote. This is Neggers’ second time voicing his concerns about the feedback he has received from the residents regarding to the increased tax burden.said.

The explanatory statement describes the project the board has been working on for the past two years. It also includes the total cost of the project and the boards’ funding methods as well as state aid numbers. At the end of the discussion all members present, Neggers, John Jackson, Jessica Egner, Stella Dunn, Ed Caffrey, and Tina Larsen voted in favor of the resolution.

The resolution states the following information:

“Whereas, the Board of Education of the Town of Newton School District in the County of Sussex, New Jersey, in connection with its planned decommission of the Halsted Middle School (as approved by the New Jersey Department of Education) seeks to submit a school facilities project to the School District voters consisting of the renovation and expansion of the Merriam Avenue School and the reconfiguration of such school into a grades pk-8 school, at an aggregate cost no exceeding $18,950,001 and

Whereas the board intends to finance the project cost through its issuance of not exceeding $18,693,675 in long-term school bonds and a $256,326 cash contribution from the School District Capital Reserve Fund and

Whereas NJDOE has approved the decommission of the Halsted Middle School and has awarded an aggregated 16.3355% in State Aid to the School District for the project, representing 53.7532% of the $5,758,872 in state aid-eligible project costs…

Whereas in order to proceed further with this project, the board now seeks to present the project to the School District voters for their consideration via a special ballot question at a special School District Election to be held on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 and to authorize certain actions required be taken in connection with the conduct of the election and the undertaking of the project.”

Going forward, the board agreed to form an Ad Hoc committee made up of members of the board of education, town council and PTO. The committee will also include community members who expressed interest in participating through the public survey disseminated at the beginning of the project. The committee will keep the public informed day about the project and answer any questions any residents have, from now until the vote.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police: Traffic Stop Ends with Weed Arrest

March 22, 2018

SPARTA, NJ-  A man from Monroe, stopped for having an expired registration for his red four door Chevrolet ended up facing drug charges.  On March 17 around 2:13 p.m. Sparta Cpl. Dan Elig pulled over Mark Kern, 25, police report.

When the officer spoke with Kern he smelled burnt marijuana.  Kern admitted to Elig there was a half smoked marijuana cigarette in the car, which he ...

Sparta Police Scoop Up Three on Outstanding Warrants

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta Police Officers have picked up three people on outstanding warrants recently in unrelated traffic stops.

On March 20, around 7:30 p.m. Sparta Police Officer Erick Finley stopped 25-year-old Newark resident Crystal Dejesus for a broken tail light on her silver Toyota.  Finley found Dejesus had an outstanding warrant from Alpine Municipal Court, police ...

Sparta Police: Car Crash Leads to Warrant Arrest

SPARTA, NJ –  A car going too fast for the snowy road conditions crashed on Route 15.  No one was injured in the one car crash but the driver, Melvin Pineda-Castro of Plainfield, 27, was taken into custody.  On March 13 around 6:30 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Ben Griffin arrived at the scene, according to police.

Pineda-Castro had lost control of his black Honda CRV, hit ...

Mis-management At Presby Threatens the Future of the Garden

March 22, 2018

Dear Editor,

It is with concern that I bring this subject to the attention to all who care and treasure the Presby Memorial Iris Garden, which along with the cherry trees of Branch Brook Park is one of the crown jewels of the Essex County Park System.  This historic garden founded 90 years ago by Frank Presby on  Upper Mt. Ave. is known internationally for its collection which ...


March 11, 2018



Republican Freeholder Candidates, Dawn Fantasia and Josh Hertzberg commended the District 24 Legislators for taking action in the wake of the horrific school shooting that took the lives of 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.   


Senator Oroho, Assemblyman Space and ...

Upcoming Events


Sat, March 24, 9:30 AM

Sparta Recreation Department, Sparta

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

McKenna Hall, Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Sparta

Night with NJ Giants #53 Harry Carson Beefsteak


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

Perona Farms, Sparta

Trout Unlimited Annual Fund Raising Banquet

Arts & Entertainment


Tue, March 27, 7:30 PM

Council Chambers, Sparta

Sparta Township Council Meeting



Sat, March 31, 10:30 AM

Dykstra Park, Sparta

NEW DATE - UNICO Easter Egg Hunt

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, April 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Fri, April 13, 5:00 PM

Sparta High School Auditorium, Sparta

2nd Annual Jazz Festival at Sparta High School

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, April 14, 9:00 AM


Jr Lions Football - Meet & Greet

Education Sports

Sun, April 22, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Newton Police: Third Pedestrian Struck By Motor Vehicle this Year

March 23, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—A Hamburg woman is the third pedestrian to be hit by a car in Newton this year.  Newton Police department responded to the accident at the intersection of Spring Street and Madison Street on Friday, March 9 around 12:33 p.m. police say. 

Police found Michele Krasnomowitz, 50, sitting near the marked crosswalk on Madison Street being assisted by witnesses. Matthew ...

6 Easy Ways to Increase Zzzz’s During National Sleep Awareness Month and Beyond!

Team Nest Builder knows sleep deprivation leads to a myriad of problems, so we’re here to help you make your New Jersey home bedrooms the havens you deserve! Take a look at these simple ideas for increasing your zzzzz’s:

Soften Up

Employ a large area rug that covers the entire room to help absorb sound and enhance comfort.

Feeling Blue

According to a study by Travelodge, ...

4 Top Reasons NOW Is A Great Time To Buy A New Jersey Home

Team Nest Builder offers four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting:

Prices Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices appreciated by 6.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.3% over the next year.  The bottom in home prices came and left. Home values will ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


The Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders March 14 2018 meeting video

NEWTON, NJ - The Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders March 14 2018 meeting video.


Career Exploration Club for Middle School Students

March 24, 2018

Explorer Club 15, chartered to the Sussex County YMCA, will be an informative 8 week program.  Middle school students will explore a variety of careers.  What is the real world experience of working in this career?  How to prepare to enter a career and succeed?  Expert speakers will share their experience.  Expected fields to include: Law, Medicine, Engineering, ...